After securing a first-round bye in the playoffs, the United States men’s ice hockey team is set to face its first postseason opponent tonight, as the Americans square off against Slovakia in the quarterfinals.
The Slovaks defeated Germany 4-0 Monday night in the qualification round to clinch their spot in the quarterfinals. Four different players potted a goal in the playoff win.
The USA-Slovakia quarterfinal matchup is set for Tuesday night at 11:10 p.m. ET, where the winner will go onto the semifinals to play the victor of the Sweden-Canada quarterfinal game.
The United States could not have asked for a better preliminary round, going 3-0 in group play with all three wins coming in regulation. They are the only team out of the 12 at the Winter Olympics to do so.
Team USA scored the most amount of goals in group play (16) while allowing the least (5) in the three games. The most recent game was in the form of a 3-2 victory over Germany.
Slovakia entered the playoffs having allowed 12 goals in three games, however 10 of those came in the first two games of the preliminary round against Sweden and Finland. In their last two contests, the Slovaks have given up just two, with Patrick Rybar stopping all 21 shots he saw in the shutout victory over Germany.
The United States have not medaled in men’s ice hockey since settling for silver in 2010, falling to Canada 3-2 in overtime of the gold medal game.
In 2014, the U.S. lost to Finland in the bronze medal round and failed to make it past the quarterfinals in 2018.
For Slovakia, the team has never won a medal in men’s ice hockey in Winter Olympics history. The farthest the nation has gone is the bronze medal game in 2010, where the team fell 5-3 to Finland.