Team USA Hockey Eliminated By Czech Republic In Olympic Shootout Loss

Ice Hockey- Winter Olympics Day 8

Koukal, the second Czech to shoot, deked around US netminder Ryan Zapolski for the only goal of the shootout as the Americans could not get a puck past Pavel Francouz, who stopped all five shots.

Playing four-on-four in overtime on large Olympic ice in its second game in two days, the US flagged late.

Ryan Donato and Jim Slater scored for the USA, who again were led by their youngest players, including speedster Troy Terry.

"It's tough to kind of go that way I think to end an Olympic tournament", said Zapolski, who made 27 saves on 29 shots in regulation and overtime. Of the possible quarterfinal opponents, the Czechs are about the best matchup the Americans could have hoped for from a style standpoint.

"He's always been someone that can raise his game in the big games", Chuck Terry, Troy's father, said. With 80 seconds remaining, Czech Vojtech Mozik took a slashing penalty, but the US power play had been a special kind of mess all day, and it never generated much heat. "That part's not that surprising".

The goal was Donato's fifth of the tournament eclipsing his father Ted's four goals from the 1992 Albertville Winter Games.

The American side put up a fine fight, facing a Czech Republic team that had earned a bye into the quarterfinals and thus was working off a bit more rest.

But Jan Kolar's long shot from the point beat USA goalie Ryan Zapolski to tie the game at 15:12. One such sequence lasted more than eight minutes at the beginning of the second period and resulted in a goal by Tomas Kundratek, putting the Czech Republic up 2-1.

A few US players mentioned afterward that Francouz's left-handedness gave them a look they weren't used to, but mainly they gushed about what a wonderful experience they'd had at these Games.

With the score locked at 2-2 late in the third period, Brian O'Neill had a chance to give the U.S the lead when his wrist shot clanged off the post.

Jim Slater provided the evener for the Americans two minutes later with a short-handed goal at the 30:23 mark, getting an assist by Brian O'Neill. But Zapolski blocked every shot that came his way, and the USA even generated one final chance. "We have faith in them, and we support and root for them", Kolobkov said. The U.S. got a power play at the end of regulation and into overtime but never got a shot on net.

The Czechs move on to face either the Russians or Norway.

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