Slovenia downs USA 3-2 in opening round of men's hockey


The Americans will return to the ice on Thursday night versus Slovakia before taking on the Olympic Athletes from Russia Saturday morning.

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 USA goalkeeper Ryan Zapolski. A 2-0 lead, on goals by Brian O'Neill and Jordan Greenway, didn't really seem to do Team USA's performance total justice as Slovenia didn't get a lot going in their offensive zone. They have not played a single exhibition game together.

"To win, we don't need a miracle", Team USA head coach Tony Granato said. Many spent stints in the NHL - five games here, 10 more there - before turning to a journeyman career in European leagues.

Slovenian's had lost all 5 games against the United States of America in prior tournaments and didn't step on the ice as favorites in this game either.

US coach Tony Granato showed a lot of trust in Greenway by having him center the top line with Ryan Stoa and captain Brian Gionta on his wings.

There's not much time to regroup for Team USA.

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In the extra period, it would be Mursak again who would end the game just 38 seconds after the puck dropped, to give Slovenia the 3-2 victory. Team USA led 24-12 in shots after 40 minutes and easily could have been ahead by more.

"Once we scored the first goal we really started to fly on the ice", Mursak told NBC's Pierre McGuire after the game. The final game in group play is Saturday against the team from Russian Federation.

Despite the loss, the race for gold is still wide open.

In overtime, Mursak was left alone in front of the to score the game-winning goal off a pass from Gregorc.

Slovenia took just three shots in the first period but continued to create more chances for itself as the game progressed. The Americans outshot Slovenia 11-3 in the first period.