Sports

Slovenia stuns United States in Olympic hockey opener

Slovenia stuns United States in Olympic hockey opener

Mursak scored the game victor for Slovenia 38 seconds into the overtime period to beat the USA men's hockey team, 3-2, in their first game of the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Jan Mursak who scored the winning goal, Jan Urbas, Rok Ticar of Slovenia and teammates celebrate the victory in overtime following the Ice Hockey Men Preliminary Round match between U.S. and Slovenia at Kwandong Hockey Centre on February 14, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. As Mursak's shot went past goaltender Ryan Zapolski, U.S. players hung their heads on the bench before Slovenia players celebrated with their fans. Although the United States made the first offensive thrust, a quick reversal of the puck by Slovenia allowed Mursak to fly down the left wing, and his goal only 38 seconds into the extra period sent the Americans to bed grumpy.

Instead of skating confidently with a 2-0 lead built on early goals by Brian O'Neill and Boston University's Jordan Greenway, the Americans stopped moving in the third period and blinked. It wasn't the prettiest game the United States has ever played, but the team was leading by two goals after stifling Slovenia for the most part after 40 minutes. It's a position no one thought the team would be in this early in the tournament, despite the team ranking sixth in Olympic gold medal odds.

After a scoreless second period, Slovakia took advantage of sloppy play by from the Olympic Athletes from Russian Federation in the third as Ceresnak collected the victor on a powerplay off a second delay of game penalty. Peter Ceresnak then scored the game-winner with a slapshot in the third period.

Long before that, the US started letting the game slip away with mistakes all over the ice. Jordan Greenway scored to help the US take a two-goal lead more than halfway through the second period.

Monique Lamoureux Morando of the U.S. in action Thursday Feb. 15 2018 against Marie Philip Poulin of Canada. David W Cerny  Reuters
Monique Lamoureux Morando of the U.S. in action Thursday Feb. 15 2018 against Marie Philip Poulin of Canada. David W Cerny Reuters

The U.S. did look strong in the first two periods, outshooting Slovenia 11-3 in the first and 13-9 in the second.

Sanguinetti's wife, Sarah, shared some video with WECT as she and their 5-month-old son were decked out in Team USA gear cheering on the men's hockey team.

The U.S. Men's Olympic Ice Hockey Team will be competing in Group B with Russia, Slovakia, and Slovenia. And failing to beat Slovakia at the Olympics is a reminder of more recent problems. Through 22 games, Greenway is fourth on the Terriers in points with eight goals and 10 assists.

"I'm proud of my guys, I'm proud of the team", said Mursak, who played sporadically with the NHL's Detroit Red Wings between 2010 and 2012.

The Russians tried to respond after Ceresnak's goal but couldn't take advantage of two power plays in the final 10 minutes. "He's doing his best to help us win". But the Americans' energy inexplicably flagged in the third, to the surprise of coach Tony Granato.

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