Jan Mursak scored the tying goal in the final minutes of regulation and the victor in overtime as Slovenia came back to stun the United States 3-2 Wednesday night at Kwandong Hockey Centre in each team's Olympic opener. Then, after pulling their goalie, Slovenia tied things up late on the strength of a Jan Mursak goal.
The USA came out strong leading in every category, American Brian O'Neill put his team up by a goal in the 1st period and later in the game Jordan Greenway made it 2-0.
American hockey fans will now surely lament the fact NHL players are not in the Olympics, more than they already have been, and the great amount of relative unknowns on the United States roster. It would turn out to be the game-winning goal, sending Slovakia to the top of Group B.
But will little time left in the game Wednesday, Mursak lingered toward the front of the United States goal crease, near goalie Ryan Zapolski.
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.
It's going to be a much different competition this year without the participation of the National Hockey League, which declined to stop its season to send players to Pyeongchang, but a run toward gold by the Americans would be just as sweet. "But I think the whole team showed a really good performance today".
Zapolski got out of position after lunging to his left on a save.
NOTES: Defensemen Matt Gilroy and Noah Welch wore the "As" as alternate captains. After the US reached double-digits in number of shots taken, Brian O'Neill, a 29-year-old who plays in Finland, scored first for Team USA with just more than two minutes left in the first period. After four seasons with the AHL Griffins, he made his Red Wings debut in the 2010-11 season.
It was the first win for Slovenia over the United States in Olympic men's ice hockey.
He has played for Slovenia in the World Junior Championships and the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
With captain Brian Gionta off for tripping, the USA got a couple of scares when Slovenia hit the post early on the power play and then nearly scored moments later.
The U.S. faces Slovakia next in a 9:10 p.m. CST start Thursday.
The broadcast is on CNBC.