BEIJING – Minutes after failing to score in the shootout as the Americans' last chance to stay alive at the Olympics, captain Andy Miele took off his gloves to wipe away tears.
“I'm just sad it's over,” he said.
With one bad bounce in the final minute of regulation that became the tying goal and an unsuccessful shootout, the United States is out of the men's hockey tournament at the Beijing Games after a shocking 3-2 loss to Slovakia in the quarterfinals. The previously unbeaten U.S. that was the top seed in the knockout round and looked poised for a deep run instead was dealt the same result as the 2018 group in the last Olympics without NHL players.
“This one's going to sting for a little bit,” veteran defenseman Steven Kampfer said. “I thought we were the better team for a majority of the game. You come up a little bit short.”
Brendan Brisson, Sean Farrell, Matt Knies, Nathan Smith and Miele all came up empty in the shootout.
“It's a tough situation with the game riding on you,” Miele said. “I wanted to score, I didn't and it stinks. I don't know what else to say.”
Strauss Mann allowed only one goal on five shots by Slovakia, with Peter Cehlarik beating him with a move he practiced in warmup and expected to catch the goaltender by surprise. On the bench during the shootout, 17-year-old Slovakia forward Juraj Slafkovsky told Cehlarik he believed he would score when it was his turn.
“Don't worry,” Cehlarik said in Slovak. “Backhand, forehand and I will score.”
After goalie Patrik Rybar denied Miele for his final save of the 38 he made in regulation, overtime and the shootout, assistant Jan Pardavy embraced Slovakia coach Craig Ramsay and Slovakia celebrated its first trip to the Olympic semifinals since 2010 in Vancouver.
“It's a thrill,” said Ramsay, who played 14 NHL seasons and spent more than two decades as an assistant.
US men's curling keep medal hopes
American John Shuster and the defending Olympic curling champions won a last-chance match to qualify for the playoffs, beating Denmark 7-5 to keep their hopes of a repeat gold medal alive.
The Americans will play Britain in the semifinals later Thursday night. Reigning silver medalist Sweden will meet Canada, which finished fourth a year ago.
Four years after winning five straight elimination games to take gold -- just the second Olympic curling medal in U.S. history -- Shuster's foursome was again in a desperate position.
This time there was a twist, though: Even with a loss, they could have made the playoffs if Italy beat Norway. (The Americans beat Norway 7-6 in the round-robin to claim the tiebreaker.)
In the end, Italy lost. The Americans needed to win, and they did.
Clement Noel of France won the men's slalom on the strength of a fast second run. He moved up from sixth after the first leg to beat Johannes Strolz of Austria, who led after the first run, by 0.61 seconds. World champion Sebastian Foss-Solevaag of Norway took the bronze.
Elvira Oeberg skied fast and shot clean in anchoring Sweden to gold in the four-woman biathlon. It was the third medal for Oeberg, who won silver in the sprint and pursuit races in her debut.
Norwegian skier Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo completed a second straight Olympic cross-country sprint double and Victoria Carl of Germany barely edged Swedish rival Jonna Sundling at the line in the women's race.
Qi Guangpu of China won the gold medal in men's aerials. Qi was the only competitor to cleanly land a quintuple-twisting triple back flip in the medal round. Defending champ Oleksandr Abramenko of Ukraine won silver and Ilia Burov of the Russian team took bronze.
Choi Minjeong of South Korea successfully defended her Olympic title in the 1,500-meter short track speedskating race while Arianna Fontana of Italy took silver by two-thousandths of a second over Suzanne Schulting of the Netherlands. Fontana is the most-decorated short track skater with 11 medals. The Canadian team of Charles Hamelin, Steven Dubois, Jordan Pierre-Gilles and Pascal Dion won the 5,000-meter relay, the country's eighth gold in the 45-lap race.