The US Men’s and Women’s team suffered losses on Wednesday to squads they were favored to beat. The men coughed up a two-goal lead to Slovenia and lost in overtime, 3-2. The women faced a much tougher foe in rival Canada and fell, 2-1.
The men were not expected to challenge for a gold medal. They are a +1000, behind top pick Russia (+105), Canada (+450), Sweden (+450), Finland (+800) and the Czech Republic (+900). The NHL players are not participating in the Olympics like they have in the past.
The women won the silver medal in 2014 when they lost to Canada in the finals, 3-2, in overtime. The two have a bitter rivalry and the Americans have watched their adversaries take home the gold in the last four Olympics.
This year, though, could be different. The team was a -120 to take win the gold, while the Canadians were even money. General Manager Melody Davidson told Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star it was a role they are becoming comfortable with for the first time in more than a decade.
“We love being the underdog,” she said. “We’ll take that any day.”
US Women Lose Thriller
When the two women’s teams get together it is usually a physical contest and this game was no different. This was what many believe was a preview of the gold medal game.
Canada struck first, scoring on the power play early in the second period. They got another goal with 5:04 remaining in the period to extend the lead to 2-0. The goal was controversial because a replay showed one of the Canadians offside. US Coach Robb Stauber did not challenge the play.
The US ran into a wall in goalie Genevičve Lacasse, who stopped 32 shots in the first two periods. One of those saves was a penalty shot that Jocelyne Lamoureux was unable to convert.
The US did manage to get on the board 23 seconds into the final period on a pretty wrist shot by Kendall Coyne. That would be all that Lacasse would allow, however, stopping a total of 44 shots.
American Men Hockey-Shamed
The men’s defeat was far more humiliating. Slovenia was a +650 to pull off the upset and were able to do so in overtime after the US allowed them back into the game.
The first two goals were scored by the US. Brian O’Neill got the first point late in the first period. Jordan Greenway, the first African-American to be on a US hockey team, got the second goal midway through the second.
But the squad allowed Slovenia back in to the game with a sloppy final period. They got to within one on a goal 5:49 into the third. Then they pulled the goalie and they got the equalizer with 1:38 left in the game.
In overtime Slovenia needed just 38 seconds to end the contest sending the Americans off the ice with a crushing defeat. The now face Slovakia Saturday, who upset Russia, the team many believe will win the gold.