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U.S. men's hockey melts down in stunning Olympic-opening loss to Slovenia

14 February 2018, 07:07 | Percy Christensen

U.S. men's hockey melts down in stunning Olympic-opening loss to Slovenia

U.S. men's hockey melts down in stunning Olympic-opening loss to Slovenia

Next up for Team USA is a faceoff with rival Canada, which won the gold in the 2014 Sochi Games.

"Once we scored the first goal we really started to fly on the ice", Mursak told NBC's Pierre McGuire after the game.

Slovenia is competing in Olympic men's hockey for just the second time in the country's history. Even though the USA holds an 11-4 shot total, Slovenia skated with them much of the period and, lest we forget, this one could be tied right now.

The U.S. jumped out to a 2-0 lead off goals from Brian O'Neill and Jordan Greenway.

Slovenia, ranked 15th by the International Ice Hockey Federation, got on the board in the third period when Blaz Gregorc threaded a wrist shot through a crowd in front of US goalkeeper Ryan Zapolski.

We know the U.S.is a longshot in this tournament, but Slovenia is even more so.

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Twenty-three others have represented the U.S.in global competitions and captured 14 medals.

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.

This time, it's a group of underdogs that will attempt to write another chapter into USA Hockey lore. Team Canada has taken the last four Olympic gold medals, with the USA winning the 1998 Games. Though the USA women are defending world champs, the Canadians bring a 22-game Olympic winning streak into the contest. Many spent stints in the NHL - five games here, 10 more there - before turning to a journeyman career in European leagues.

The Swedish men make their Olympic debut, and besides Rasmus Dahlin (the likely No. 1 pick of the 2018 NHL Draft) another Swede's name caught my eye: Carl Klingberg, the older brother of Dallas Stars defenseman and Norris Trophy candidate John Klingberg. Nothing fancy, but he can put up some put up some greasy goals.

One of the new things players on either side of the border war agree on is that the rivalry brings out the best with both teams. The team's next game - leading up to the quarterfinals - is against Canada Feb. 15.



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