Ryan Donato’s two-goal effort helped Team USA earn their first win in PyeongChang, defeating Slovakia 2-1.
After learning a hard lesson in its opening game vs. Slovenia, the Americans did not sit back and watch the clock while protecting a third-period lead. Instead, they attacked, skated with confidence and prohibited the opponent from tallying a late equalizer.
“I think we played a lot more aggressive,” Donato told NBC’s Pierre McGuire after the game. “We wanted to get in on the forecheck and wear them down. I think it worked overall.”
Ryan Zapolski made 21 saves, and Chris Bourque added two assists.
Donato’s second power-play goal and eventual game winner came at 2:51 of the third period when the collegiate athlete neatly tucked in a backhand from the top of the crease. Mark Arcobello also assisted on the play.
"We had good energy from all four lines and Zapolski made big saves when he had to,” said head coach Tony Granato. “It was a great atmosphere with the American presence here and we’re thankful for the terrific support. Overall, I liked the way we played. We took a step forward today."
The U.S. took a 1-0 lead when Donato wired a wrist shot past Slovakian net minder, Jan Laco. Troy Terry dangled his way into the offensive zone and left a nifty pass for a trailing Donato at 7:10 of the opening period.
However, just 35 seconds later, Slovakia’s Andrej Kurdna knotted the score at one on with a sharp redirection that Zapolski will want back.
But the well-traveled American goaltender got his chance for revenge, with several crucial stops late in the second period. Jordan Greenway, the first African American hockey player to represent the U.S. at the Winter Games, was penalized for goaltender interference. But Zapolski proved to be the best penalty killer.
Slovakia will face Slovenia next, after splitting its first two games of the preliminary round. Team USA will face the tournament favorite, the Olympic Athletes from Russia.
NOTES: Forward Chad Kolarik made his Olympic debut, replacing veteran Jim Slater in the U.S. lineup. … David Leggio backed up Zapolski with Brandon Maxwell scratched. … Notre Dame D Will Borgen was a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game.