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USA punts No. 1 seed in Olympic men’s hockey tournament, falls 3-2 to Slovakia

The States squandered plenty of chances, and despite dominating group play, they’re heading home without a medal.

Slovakia’s players celebrate victory during the men’s play-off quarterfinal match of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games ice hockey competition between USA and Slovakia, at the National Indoor Stadium in Beijing on February 16, 2022. Photo by ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP via Getty Images

The United States men’s hockey team entered their quarterfinal at the 2022 Winter Olympics as a strong favorite over lowly Slovakia, but it is the Slovaks that will play in the medal rounds after a 3-2 shootout win on Wednesday in Beijing.

The Americans held a 2-1 lead entering the third period, and looked to have the game under control despite squandering 06:38 of power play time, including a five-on-three midway through the final stanza. But after pulling goalie Patrik Rybar, Marek Hrivik beat USA goalie Strauss Mann with just 46 seconds to play to tie the game.

Olympic hockey provides for a single 10-minute 3-on-3 overtime in non-final games, and despite controlling most of the possession and outshooting Slovakia 7-4, the USA couldn’t beat Rybar once again. That led to a shootout with both teams taking five penalty shots, and Peter Cehlarik beat Mann to his right with the eighth of ten shots, the only one that scored for either side.

The Slovaks as the lowest-seeded team remaining will face the best team left in their semifinal, to be scheduled for Thursday or Friday.