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GAMEDAY: U.S. Olympic Men's Team Opens Play Against Slovenia

By USA Hockey, 02/13/18, 6:30PM EST

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The 2018 U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team begins play in the Olympic tournament with its first preliminary round game here tonight against Slovenia. Opening faceoff is set for 9:10 p.m. local time (7:10 a.m. ET) and the game will be broadcast live on NBCSN and streamed live at NBCOlympics.com.

Ryan Zapolski will get the call in net for the U.S. He is making his first Olympic appearance, however, has played for Team USA in three previous international tournaments, including the Deutschland Cup in both 2013, 2015, and 2017. Zapolski plays for Helsinki-based Jokerit in the KHL and currently leads the league in shutouts with nine.

The 2018 U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team is comprised of Americans playing professionally in Europe (17), the AHL (3) and in college hockey (4). For the first time since 1994, NHL players are not participating in the Games.

THE SERIES
The U.S. and Slovenia have met just once previously in the Olympic Winter Games, that coming in 2014 in the preliminary round where Phil Kessel scored three times to help Team USA to a 5-1 victory.

LEADERSHIP
Brian Gionta, who is the only member of the U.S. team with Olympic experience (he played in 2006 and led the squad in goals), is the captain of the 2018 U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team. Gionta has 1,006 games of NHL regular-season experience to his credit and also a Stanley Cup title (2003-New Jersey Devils). He has captained two NHL teams, including both the Montreal Canadiens (2010-14) and the Buffalo Sabres (2014-17).

OPENING GAMES
The U.S. Olympic Men’s ice Hockey Team has won its opening game of the Olympics in each of the last four Games, including a 7-1 victory over Slovakia to start the 2014 Games. Overall in opening games, the U.S. is 10-0-1-8-3 (W-OTW-OTL-L-T).

TIBDITS
The U.S. is in preliminary round Group B with Slovenia, Slovakia and OAR (Olympic Athletes from Russia), oddly the same teams that comprised a preliminary round group at the 2014 Games ... Team USA is the home team for its game vs. Slovenia and will wear its "third" jersey for tonight's contest.

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2018 U.S. Men's Olympic Schedule

Date Opponent Round Result Venue
Wed., Feb. 14 Slovenia Preliminary OTL, 2-3 Kwandong Hockey Centre
Fri., Feb. 16 Slovakia Preliminary W, 2-1 Gangneung Hockey Centre
Sat., Feb. 17 Olympic Athletes From Russia Preliminary L, 0-4 Gangneung Hockey Centre
Tues., Feb. 20 Slovakia Qualification W, 5-1 Gangneung Hockey Centre
Wed., Feb 21 Czech Republic Quarterfinals SOL, 2-3 Gangneung Hockey Centre

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