It's worked just like Granato and the late general manager Jim Johannson had hoped, and just in time: Zapolski stopped 21 shots in his best game of the tournament and NCAA players Ryan Donato and Troy Terry dominated offensively in a 5-1 win against Slovakia that put the United States into Wednesday's quarterfinals against the Czech Republic.
But after scoring a combined four goals in those first three games, the USA found their offense and more than doubled their goal total with five in Tuesday's game. On the next play, he set the screen on James Wisniewski's 5-on-3 power-play goal in a game that helped the USA get its offensive groove back.
"Just having the chemistry build and continue to build, it feels really good". With the offense finally clicking, the US needed Zapolski to be on his game and he was, stopping 21 shots and playing after jamming his neck.
The idea belonged to Jim Johansen, the general manager who conceived this motley US men's hockey team.
Donato scored two goals to tie his father, Ted, with four in a single Olympics. "I've never seen him smile like that before", the younger Donato said.
Slovakia scored a second-period, power-play goal by Peter Ceresnak through traffic that Zapolski had little chance of stopping.
The United States had a 1-1-1 record in Group B play, beating Slovakia, losing to Slovenia in overtime and getting blanked 4-0 by the Olympic Athletes from Russian Federation.
After a listless first period with no goals and few scoring chances, the US wasted little time getting on the board early in the second.
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Donato, who also netted two goals against Slovakia in a 2-1 group-stage victory, blasted a rebound into the far top corner 96 seconds into the second period to put the U.S. ahead 1-0.Slovakia responded 26 seconds later with a body-slamming retaliation sequence as Michal Cajkovsky was sent off for 25 minutes for a blow to Donato's head. "It hasn't resulted in a lot of points and that type of stuff".
Slovakia responded 26 seconds later with a body-slamming retaliation sequence as Michal Cajkovsky was sent off for 25 minutes for a blow to Donato's head at the same time Ladislav Nagy was whistled for flattening USA goaltender Ryan Zapolski.
Donato got looked at on the bench and Zapolski took a few minutes before deciding not to leave the net. He said he felt like he a pinched nerve in his neck.
Harvard University star Donato scored two goals and Zapolski made 22 saves to drive the Americans, who haven´t taken Olympic gold since 1980, into a last-eight clash Wednesday against unbeaten Czech Republic. Terry took advantage of all the time in the world behind the net and found an open Arcobello for a one-timer to put the US up 3-0 at 13:30. The game is broadcast by NBC, but you can also stream it live here.
Donato and Terry have had fun and made some magic playing on a line with former National Hockey League forward Mark Arcobello, who Granato joked was the happiest person at the Olympics because of his skilled linemates. He's got the vision and the passing.
Garrett Roe and Donato each added a goal for the U.S.in the third period to close out the game's scoring. They put it away in the third period and Donoto scored his second goal.
"I think people saw tonight we have a very fast team and a team that can play good hockey", Terry said. "So we have a lot of belief in our team and we're excited to keep going".