USA men's hockey's Olympic medal dreams end in shootout loss to Czech Republic

The U.S. men's hockey team failed to reach a medal round at the Olympics for the first time since 2008 with a heartbreaking 3-2 shootout loss to the Czech Republic.

Looking back on the 2018 Winter Olympics, the legacy for this iteration of the U.S. men's hockey team will be remembered in two words: Missed opportunities.

A 3-2 shootout loss to the Czech Republic in Tuesday's quarterfinals sealed the fate of the Americans, who failed to reach the medal round at the Olympics for the first time since 2008. And although U.S. medal aspirations were fuzzy without NHL players on the roster, a tournament marred by inconsistency qualifies as an abject disappointment, if only because Team USA was capable of delivering much more.

Their final game in Pyeongchang was emblematic of that.

Riding the high of a five-goal outburst 24 hours earlier, the U.S. set the tone against the Czechs when Ryan Donato continued his storybook tournament with the game's first goal 6:20 in — his Olympic-leading fifth goal. But Team USA squandered what should have been easy momentum, falling into penalty trouble and taking their foot off the gas.

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The Czech Republic, a perfect 3-0 in group play, is a mature and even-keeled group. Adept at playing together and on larger international ice, they baited the Americans into a trap and dominated possession during the second period and parts of the third. A Tomas Kundratek goal, the second by a Czechs defenseman, made it 2-1 in the second. And if not for Jim Slater's unlikely goal with the U.S. shorthanded for a third time in the period, the Czechs might've run away with the game.

The U.S. also failed to capitalize on their five power plays, including a slashing penalty called with 1:20 left in regulation, giving them 40 seconds of 4-on-3 power play in overtime.

They failed to register a shot.

"We couldn't put it together. We looked scrambled in that key moment," captain Brian Gionta said on NBC.

If not for starting goalie Ryan Zapolski, the U.S. surely would have lost in regulation. He kept them in it most of the game, stopping 26 of 28 shots, and was equally stellar in the shootout. The lone slip-up came in the second round, when Petr Koukal beat him, joining Czech shootout lore. The American shooters couldn't muster a single goal on Pavel Francouz, who saw minimal work in regulation with just 20 shots against. The U.S. had averaged 32 for the tournament.

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The Czechs advance to face either Norway or the Olympic Athletes from Russia in the semifinals, guaranteeing they'll at least have a shot at bronze. That should have been the Americans' fate. The 23-man roster, composed by the late general manager Jim Johansson, was inherently flawed but still included 15 players with NHL experience that should have challenged other nations missing their best players, too.

In the end, a premature elimination for the Americans is about what could be expected. They managed only two wins in Pyeongchang — both against Slovakia. It turned out the three collegiates on the team were Team USA's greatest asset. Donato, Troy Terry and Jordan Greenway had a hand in nine of the 11 goals the U.S. scored at the Olympics.

Team USA has failed to medal in eight of the 10 Olympic men’s ice hockey tournaments since the "Miracle on Ice" in 1980. Let that sink in.

A star-studded roster of Patrick Kane, Auston Matthews and Jack Eichel was supposed to lead the U.S. to challenge for gold. Instead, with the NHL staying home, USA Hockey is left to pick up the pieces, wondering what exactly it missed out on.

Sporting News provided live scoring updates and highlights. See how the game unfolded below. (All times Eastern).

MORE: Watch the Olympics live and on-demand with fuboTV (7-day free trial)


Full results: Czech Republic 3, USA 2 (SO)

Shootout

12:48 — Bobby Butler opts for a quick snap shot and catches Francouz's blocker. The Czech Republic wins.

12:48 — Zapolski makes another stop and U.S. must score.

12:47 — Troy Terry goes forehand-backhand but can't quite get it up. No goal.

12:46 — Zapolski with another stop.

12:46 — No dice for Mark Arcobello.

12:46 — Zapolski stops the third Czech shooter.

12:46 — Ryan Donato is denied.

12:46 — GOAL. Czech's Petr Koukal scores.

12:45 — Chris Bourque nearly beats Francouz, but couldn't lift it over the pad.

12:44 — Zapolski stops the first shooter.

12:42 — Each team shoots five times. If we're still tied, teams can recycle shooters.

Overtime

12:41 — Shootout, here we come. Can bank on Troy Terry shooting for the U.S. You'll recall his three shootout goals in the 2017 World Junior Championship

12:39 — A Bobby Sanguinetti shot slips behind Francouz and sits in the crease, but no one crashes and it's frozen. So close.

12:34 — Top U.S. line takes the ice and Ryan Donato goes hard to the net, flipping over top of goalie Pavel Francouz and into the net.

12:27 — Penalty is over. It's 4-on-4 hockey. No SOGs on the power play play for the U.S.

12:26 — U.S. has 41 seconds on the power play.

Third period: USA 2, Czech Republic 2

Shots on goal: Czechs 27, USA 17

12:25 — Overtime! They'll play up to 10 minutes of sudden death, then we head to a shootout. Classic in the making.

12:21 — The U.S. is going to the power play with 1:20 to go. It was Vojtech Mozik with the slash. Here we go, folks.

12:20 — That sequence opened things up a little bit. Czechs get a nice chance back the other way, the O'Neill and Little nearly score again. Still 2-2.

12:19 — Brian O'Neill rings one off the post! He was in on a two-on-one with Broc Little. So close.

12:18 — Top U.S. line of Ryan Donato, Troy Terry and Mark Arcobello is one the ice with 3:15 to play. Next goal likely wins.

12:12 — Bobby Butler and Rya Stoa get a nice look on a rush up the ice but can’t get a real good shot on net after Butler loses his footing. Just over 6 minutes to go.

12:08 — U.S. has averaged 32 shots per game at the Olympics. They have only 16 on goal so far. Czechs with 19. There hasn't been a lot of chances, especially here in this third period. You can feel the tension now with just over 8 minutes to play.

12:06 — Czechs successfully kill that one off. U.S. now 0 for 4 on the power play.

12:03 — Team USA to the power play after Roman Cervenka gets to the gate for high-sticking with 12:05 remaining. U.S. is 0 for 3 with the man advantage today. Needless to say, this is a massive opportunity in a third period where there's been very little give.

12:00 — It's been an uneventful third period so far. Both teams feeling out one another. There's 13:43 to go, and you get the sense we'll see a little drama.

11:50 — The third period starts now with a trip to the semifinals on the line.

Second period: USA 2, Czech Republic 2

Shots on goal: Czechs 17, USA 13

11:37 — Czechs kill the penalty and this one will go into the third period tied 2-2. Feels like we're in for a nail-biter.

11:30 — Now the U.S. gets a power play, their first of the second period. Adam Polasek called for interference with 2:51 left in the second.

11:20 — GOAL. Jim Slater breaks up the U.S. malaise with a shorthanded goal to tie the game. He took off on a burst of speed and caught Pavel Francouz napping. What a break. The Czechs were dominating for the last 10-plus minutes.

11:17 — The U.S. doesn't have a shot on goal going on 10 minutes now.

11:15 — Another U.S. penalty kill coming up. Thirty-three seconds after the Czech goal, Mark Arcobello goes to the box for tripping.

11:13 — GOAL. Tomas Kundratek scores 8:14 into the second period. Czechs take a 2-1 lead.

11:12 — The U.S. is reeling. Three consecutive icings. The line of John McCarthy

11:09 — Czechs can't score on the power play (0 for 3), but these U.S. penalties are troubling. If nothing else, it's leeping the puck away from American sticks.

11:05 — Hardly removed from the McCarthy kill, the U.S. is back at it as Troy Terry goes to the box for high-sticking 3:28 into the second period. Not a positive trend.

11:01 — Here it goes. The U.S. starts the period with John McCarthy in the box. Czechs are 0 for 1 tonight on the power play and 2 for 8 in the tournament.

First period: USA 1, Czech Republic 1

Shots on goal: Czech 9, USA 7

10:46 — A boneheaded penalty by John McCarthy sends the U.S. off to intermission. He's called for boarding just as the period expired. The U.S. starts the second period on the penalty kill.

10:42 — U.S. to the power play. Czech captain Martin Erat is in the box for slashing with 2:24 left in the first.

10:36 — GOAL. Jan Kolar gets the Czechs on the board with 4:48 to go in the first period. Not to be confused with Jan Kovar, who assisted on that goal. Brian Gionta lost the faceoff clean.

10:32 — To put Ryan Donato's tournament in perspective, only three other U.S. players have scored five or more goals at the Olympics since 1994: Brian Rolston (seven in 1994), John LeClair (six in 2002) and Phil Kessel (five in 2014). What a run for the 21-year-old.

10:27 — First power play of the game for the U.S. It was their bread and butter yesterday with a pair of goals against Slovakia (4 for 16 for the tournament).

10:22 — GOAL. Ryan Donato can’t stop, won’t stop scoring. His fifth goal of the Olympics gives Team USA a 1-0 lead 6:20 in. None other than Troy Terry with the assist, his fifth point in five games. The kids are all right.

10:16 — Jordan Greenway is racking up the penalty minutes. He goes off for holding the stick with 3:34 gone in the first period. That's his fifth minor penalty of the Olympics, and a few of them have come at critical points in a game. His style means there will be give and take, but he'll have to hone it in before he really costs the U.S.

10:10 — Here. We. Go. The puck is down. Let's do that hockey.

Pregame

9:50 — This will be a bit of a battle between rest vs. rust. The U.S. is playing on less than 24 hours rest after last night's victory over Slovakia. The Czechs haven't played since Sunday. We'll see if the Americans can ride the high of that five-goal outburst,

9:15 p.m. ET — Here are the starting line combos for Team USA. Brandon Maxwell is backing up Ryan Zapolski in net. No changes to the forward groupings.

Time: 10:10 p.m. ET

Location: Gangneung Hockey Centre

TV: CNBC

Streaming: fuboTV (sign up for a 7-day free trial)

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