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Men’s Hockey at Olympics, Day 1 Recap

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Surprise, surprise! Slovakia & Slovenia win big

Ice Hockey - Winter Olympics Day 5 - United States v Slovenia Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

As the men’s hockey portion of the 2018 Winter Olympics kicked off today, it was a light day, with just two games on the schedule. There is one more game to be played later today, but it will be Thursday in South Korea and thus technically ‘day two’ of the Olympics.

Slovakia faced the Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR), while the United States faced Slovenia. Both games ended with stunning results, with Slovakia and Slovenia coming out on top.

Slovakia 3, OAR 2

Vladislav Gavrikov got the Olympic Athletes from Russia on the board just 2:54 in, and Kirill Kaprizov made it a 2-0 lead just minutes later. For a bit, it seemed like the kind of game you’d expect – a dominance from the OAR.

Before the first period ended, however, it was 2-2. Slovakia got on the board thanks to Peter Olvecky with under four to play before Martin Bakos made it 2-2.

After a scoreless middle frame, Slovakia took its first lead with a power-play goal by Peter Ceresnak. That goal would end up being the game-winner, as the OAR were ultimately unable to rally back.

Keep in mind – Slovakia is coached by former Buffalo Sabres left winger Craig Ramsay. Old friend Miroslav Satan is also involved with the team.

On the OAR team, former Sabres forward Mikhail Grigorenko was held scoreless in 9:45 ice time.

Slovenia 3, USA 2 (OT)

What a game for Slovenia, as they topped the US 3-2 in overtime as the Americans saw a third-period collapse that ultimately led to a loss.

Brian O’Neill put the Americans on the board with under three minutes to play in the first period. Jordan Greenway then made it 2-0 midway through the game.

But the last twenty minutes made all the difference for Slovenia, as the defense collapsed. Jan Urbas made it 2-1 and then, with under two minutes to play in regulation, Jan Mursak tied the game.

Mursak then scored the game-winning goal just 38 seconds into overtime to give Slovenia the huge victory.

Sabres prospect Will Borgen did not play in the opening game.

Former Sabres captain Brian Gionta had two penalty minutes, four shots on goal and was a minus-1 in 15:41 ice time. Former Rochester Americans defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti had one assist, one shot and was a plus-1 in 17:39 ice time.

Ryan Zapolski tended net for the US and made 22 saves. Former Amerks goaltender David Leggio did not play, and with Brandon Maxwell as the backup on the bench, was the third goalie in line.

Next Action (day & time EST)

Finland vs. Germany (Wednesday, 10:10 pm, CNBC)

Norway vs. Sweden (Thursday, 2:40 am, NBCSN)

Czech Republic vs. Korea (Thursday, 7:10 am, USA Network)

Switzerland vs. Canada (Thursday, 7:10 am, NBCSN)