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Slovenia rallies in regulation, wins in OT to shock United States

15 February 2018, 05:08 | Joan Schultz

Slovenia rallies in regulation, wins in OT to shock United States

Slovenia rallies in regulation, wins in OT to shock United States

Slovenia came from two goals down in the third period to beat the United States 3-2 in overtime on Wednesday in the opening round of the men's Olympic hockey tournament.

Jan Mursak, formerly of the NHL's Detroit Red Wings, scored both the game-tying and game-winning goals for Slovenia. The U.S.is set to open it's play in the Preliminary Round on Wednesday, February 14th against Slovenia. Jan Urbas first broke through for Slovenia, cutting the Americans lead to 2-1 with 15 minutes remaining in the game. Team USA could lose to Slovakia on Friday and Olympic Athletes from Russian Federation on Saturday and still have a path to gold.

The National Hockey League (NHL) decision not to release players for the Olympics in South Korea has made the Russians favorites to win gold.

Ryan Zapolski made 22 saves as the United States failed to protect a two-goal lead in the final period. The prelims comprise a three-game round robin among the four teams within Groups A, B and C. The winners of those three groups and the best second-place team earn an automatic spot in the quarterfinals, while the bottom eight teams are seeded No. 5-12 and meet in play-in games for the other four spots.

The Americans were unable to close out Slovenia with any sense of urgency in the third period, which was ultimately their undoing as their opponents stormed back into the game.

The American's loss was definitely a bad one, but OAR getting dropped by Slovakia - in regulation no less - is even more of a mind-bender.

US coach Robb Stauber started Maddie Rooney, his youngest goalie with all three of the USA wins against Canada.

In Wednesday's game, the US got goals from Brian O'Neill and Boston University's Jordan Greenway.

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

Kroselj made a handful of quality saves to keep Slovenia in the game, and Zapolski had to do the same in the second period, stopping Urbas on a one-timer with Greenway in the box and the USA on the penalty kill.

A team who have earned a reputation for punching above their weight, Slovenia captain Jan Mursak tied the game with under two minutes to go by tapping home a rebound and scored the victor less than a minute into sudden-death overtime.

For 40 minutes things went swimmingly for the star-less USA men's hockey team in its Olympic opener against Slovenia. Give them credit. All-in-all, I liked the way we played.

The Americans didn't come out with any spark in the third period.

Many questions have arisen on how the NHL-less Olympics will pan out.

"I thought we played two great periods", Granato said, according to USA Hockey. Zapolski, 31, has appeared in 38 games with Jokerit of the KHL this season, sporting a 1.73 goals-against average and.932 save percentage.

O'Neill says that while there is a little bit of pressure to perform well, he's just happy for the opportunity.

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