Published: Sun, February 18, 2018
Culture&Arts | By Laurence Reese

Russian gold-medal favorites lose opening game to Slovakia

Russian gold-medal favorites lose opening game to Slovakia

GANGNEUNG, South Korea — Ilya Kovalchuk and Pavel Datsyuk were dominating the NHL before Ryan Donato, Troy Terry and Jordan Greenway started playing organized hockey.

"That was a goal-scorer's goal", Terry said about Donato's game victor (via the L.A. Times).

The 168 athletes cleared by the IOC to participate in the Pyeongchang Winter Games are competing under the "Olympic athletes from Russia" banner.

"It feels pretty good", said Donato, who is one of four college players on the US team. Bad bounces happened a few times to the US against Slovenia, which wasn't happy about the too many men on the ice call that preceded Donato's second power-play goal.

If the U.S. beats Russian Federation, in regulation or overtime, it will win the group and receive a bye into the quarterfinals. The Russians opening loss to Slovakia created as many questions as the United States losing to Slovenia, but theres no way anyone underestimates them after beating Slovakia 8-2. "And they scored a goal off one of them and from that point we were kind of on our heels". After each team's first game, Slovakia is atop Group B, followed by Slovenia, the USA and the Russians. "They're a big part of this team, like Coach said early on leading into the tournament that they were going to be a big part, and they are". He saw something in each of the four collegiate players named to the team and knew they would mesh well with their more experienced teammates.

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After just five practices before their first game, the Americans have had to gel with each other fast and learn from their mistakes even quicker.

Captain Jan Mursak scored the first goal for the Slovenians, who came from two goals down in the third period to beat the United States in overtime on Wednesday. The US simply did not keep its energy up for all 60 minutes, forward Brian O'Neill said.

The Americans didn't expect to be surprised by much but go back to the drawing board to prepare to face Slovakia on Friday.

But it was Donato on the powerplay again who put the USA back ahead for good in the third period.

"This is a tournament of big surprises", said Ceresnak, who plays in the Czech league. O'Neill said special teams are really important, but especially in this tournament, and goalie Ryan Zapolski said he has been impressed with what he has seen out of it so far.

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"We will start the process (for a feasibility review) soon after the PyeongChang Winter Games, "governor Choi Moon-soon said at a press conference in Gangneung, a sub-host city of the PyeongChang Winter Games". "Guys are going to the net hard, so we make it tough on the goalie, take his eyes away, get the pucks to the net".

"The first game was big for me just to get a couple shifts and realize that I belong here", Terry explained.

"It wasn't a flawless game, but I thought it was solid".

"We were a little nervous".

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