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USA Hockey Flounders Without NHL

Looking to recreate the magic of the 1980 hockey team, USA hockey loses in the Quarterfinals

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USA Hockey Flounders Without NHL

USA Hockey looks to train future players through the Development Program

USA Hockey looks to train future players through the Development Program

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

USA Hockey looks to train future players through the Development Program

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

USA Hockey looks to train future players through the Development Program

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Last summer, the Commissioner of NHL, Gary Bettman, shocked the hockey world by announcing NHL players wouldn’t be allowed to compete for their country in the 2018 Winter Olympics. With the lack of NHL players, Team USA looked to retired NHL players, minor leaguers, and college players to bring home the gold. The team’s captain, Brian Gionta, had retired at the end of the 2016-2017 season and became the oldest person to compete in Olympic Hockey at the age of 39. There were very low expectations for this team, but also the hope of repeating the magic of the 1980 Miracle on Ice team.

During pool play in Group B along with Slovenia, Slovakia, and the Olympic Athletes from Russia, the US was expected to at least come in 2nd and qualify for the playoffs. In their first game, they started off strong against Slovenia, jumping out to a 2-0 lead at the end of the second period. However, a third period collapse saw Slovenia tie it up at 2 and force overtime. Slovenia ultimately won in overtime and the Americans fell to 0-0-1. A quick turnaround saw the US playing a Slovakian team that surprisingly upset the Olympic Athletes from Russia the next day. In this game, the college kids led the US team to a 2-1 victory, with Ryan Donato of Harvard scoring both goals and Troy Terry of Denver assisting on 1. Once again, USA played the next day, this time against the heavily favored Olympic Athletes from Russia. America looked completely out-matched, losing 4-0. The US finished 3rd in Group B with a record of 1-1-1 and would have to play in a qualifying game in order to make the playoffs.

In the qualifying round, USA played Slovakia, a team they beat 2-1 in pool play. After a slow first period ending 0-0, the Americans exploded for 3 goals in the second. This continued in the third, the US scoring 2 more goals to end the game 5-1. Once again, Ryan Donato finished with 2 goals, and Troy Terry put in 3 assists. With the win, they qualified to play in the quarterfinals against the Czech Republic. A tightly contested game saw each team scoring and the opposite team responding with a goal of their own. At the end of the third period, the score was 2-2 and required overtime. In the overtime frames, there were a few good chances for both teams to win, but no goals were scored, so the game was forced to a shootout. A goaltender battle in the shootout only required one goal for the Czech Republic to eliminate the USA from the tournament.

With no current NHL players and a team of minor leaguers, the US team was out of their depth. The best players were college players who proved how good they will be at the next level. The tournament would have been much different if NHL players were included. If the ban of NHL players continues in the Olympics, the US should choose the best players they can find outside of the league, as opposed to those with the most experience.

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USA Hockey Flounders Without NHL