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Team USA eliminated by Czech Republic in shootout

Eric Adelson
Columnist

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – Heartbreak, kids.

The youth-led American men’s hockey team could not score in a thrilling shootout round and were eliminated by the Czech Republic on Wednesday, 3-2.

Head coach Tony Granato sent out the college players that had led the whole tournament for the U.S., but nobody could find the net behind Czech goalie Pavel Francouz. U.S. goalie Ryan Zapolski allowed only one goal in the shootout, but that proved one too many.

The shootout followed 10 minutes of end-to-end play in overtime, featuring several chances, a hit crossbar by the Americans and several big saves.

During regulation, Ryan Donato started the scoring with his fifth goal of the Games, with the assist to Troy Terry. Their line, including Mark Arcobello, had 12 total points in the tournament.

Petr Koukal of the Czech Republic scores on goalie Ryan Zapolski of U.S. in a shootout. (REUTERS)

The Czechs tied it up and then went ahead before Jim Slater scored a crucial short-handed goal in the second, just when it seemed the Americans were caving under the intense Czech pressure. The third was scoreless but constantly entertaining.

After playing to a 2-2 tie in regulation and a scoreless overtime, the two teams went to a shootout for a spot in the semifinals. And this time, the U.S. didn’t have T.J. Oshie.

They could have used him.

Zapolski stopped four of five shots, the lone goal coming from Petr Koukal on the Czech’s second shot. The Americans had plenty of chances to take the lead, both in regulation, overtime and the shootout, but couldn’t find the net against Francouz, who was brilliant in the shootout.

Team USA goes home without a medal. They have two silvers in this century: 2002 and 2010.

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