United States of America rip Slovakia to reach Olympic ice hockey quarters

Olympics Ice Hockey Men Team Group B- USA-SLO

Olympics Ice Hockey Men Team Group B- USA-SLO

The idea belonged to Jim Johansen, the general manager who conceived this motley USA men's hockey team. That's some pretty good company for Donato to find himself in. "So I was just trying to keep my confidence and know that I just have to play the same way". But they insist they are playing better each game and hope to be hitting their stride at the right time. "It was a little bit of a scary thing for me kind of losing feeling in your body for a little bit, but it went away pretty quickly".

GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 20: Troy Terry #23 of the United States skates against Michal Cajkovsky #56 of Slovakia during the Men's Play-offs Qualifications game on day eleven of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Hockey Centre on February 20, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea.

Slovakia brought the heat after the power play expired, and Zapolski made several saves, including a huge one on a blazing point shot from Marek Hovorka midway through the period. And to no one's surprise, Harvard's Donato, University of Denver's Terry and Boston University's Jordan Greenway are at the forefront. The game is broadcast by NBC, but you can also stream it live here.

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Coach Tony Granato's team scored five goals against Slovakia in the win-or-go-home qualifying round, which is more goals than Team USA scored in all three preliminary-round games (four).

Scoring on the 5-on-3 power play that came with Cajovsky ejected and Nagy in the box was the kind of confidence-building goal the USA needed, and getting to five against the team coach Tony Granato called perhaps the best defensive team in the tournament has the Americans feeling good going into the quarterfinals.

The win put Tony Granato's men a step closer to reclaim that elusive gold medal that has evaded the US since the "Miracle on Ice" at the Lake Placid games in 1980, when the team defied all the odds by beating the Soviet Union in the first game of the medal round, before clinching the top spot on the podium by beating Finland two days later. "So we have a lot of belief in our team and we're excited to keep going".

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"We all had to show up", Zapolski said.

Despite a 4-0 loss to the Russians to wrap up group play, Granato and his players believe they've gotten better each game and see a benefit in playing the extra qualification-round game to keep improving. On the other hand, if Zapolski holds down the fort until the USA can find its legs and get the lead, it will force the Czechs to open up their game. "We have to attack, we have to get in on the forecheck, we have to use our offensive players that we do have, the skillset that we do have".

"In other qualification games later Tuesday, Finland was scheduled to play South Korea, with the winner advancing to take on Canada; Slovenia faced Norway, with the winner advancing to play the Olympic Athletes from Russia"; and Germany played Switzerland, with the winner advancing to face Sweden.

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- Germany played Switzerland, with the victor advancing to play top-seeded Sweden. Norway will face the Russians on Wednesday in its first Olympic quarterfinal appearance, while Slovenia played without Ziga Jeglic, who was suspended for doping.

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