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U.S. men's hockey pulls out win after entering 3rd period tied

U.S. men's hockey pulls out win after entering 3rd period tied

GANGNEUNG, South Korea -- Ryan Donato scored two power-play goals and Troy Terry dominated with his speed as college players led the United States to an important 2-1 victory over Slovakia on Friday at the Olympics.

Donato, who plays for his father Ted at Harvard, delivered the kind of offense USA Hockey wanted when it picked four NCAA players for its no-NHL Olympic roster. Donato, Terry and American Hockey League scoring star Chris Bourque were all additions to the U.S. after the pre-Olympic Deutschland Cup in November, during which the U.S. struggled to score, particularly against Slovakia goaltender Jan Laco.

Laco was on top of his game, stopping 29 of the 31 shots he faced. Only this time, the Americans' young skill that coach Tony Granato hoped would bring energy and spark the team came through.

Goalie Ryan Zapolski made 21 saves for his first Olympic victory, which is crucial considering only the top four of 12 teams avoid the qualification round Monday. With the regulation win, the U.S. vaults to the top of Group B with four points. Slovakia was second with three, followed by Slovenia and Russia.

The U.S. faces Russia in each team's final preliminary-round game Saturday night.

The Americans didn't have a shot on net until six-plus minutes into the game when defenseman Noah Welch finally got the puck to Laco.

All it took to get the U.S. offense going was a Slovakia penalty that gave Terry and Donato some room to operate. Terry sped through the offensive zone and took two Slovakia defenders with him, dropping the puck to a wide-open Donato for his first power-play goal of the game to put the U.S. up 1-0 at 7:10.

Just 25 seconds later, Andrej Kudrna scored on a tip of a Tomas Surovy shot that slipped under Zapolski's right arm for a tying goal the 31-year-old goalie probably wants back.

Bobby Butler had a semi-breakaway late in the first and Laco got his blocker on it. A couple of second-period power plays yielded offensive-zone time but not a goal, and a borderline goalie interference penalty on Boston University's Jordan Greenway made penalty killers work hard to keep it tied.

After a too many men on the ice call on Slovakia, Bourque, another son of a former NHL player, fed Donato, who spun around in front and went five-hole on Laco to score the game-winning goal with 17:09 left.

3.15.19: Rick Horrow sits down with NCAA analyst Clark Kellogg

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USA TODAY Sports

3.15.19: Rick Horrow sits down with NCAA analyst Clark Kellogg

Rick Horrow sits down with NCAA analyst Clark Kellogg and brings you the biggest sports business stories of the week.

Listen to the full podcast here.

By Rick Horrow

Podcast edited by Tanner Simkins

  • In Phoenix, ISM Connect is once again in the headlines as Kyle Busch earns the Phoenix sweep for his 199th win in NASCAR’s top three series. On Sunday, Busch won the TicketGuardian 500 at ISM Raceway. In October, 2017, smart venue technology pioneer ISM Connect signed a multi-year partnership with Phoenix International Raceway. However, this was much more than a naming rights deal – with ISM, the venue has now received a complete face lift in terms of connectivity and providing a 360-degree interactive fan experience. ISM, which works with nearly every NASCAR track, provides a comprehensive digital marketing strategy for venues that includes robust technological solutions that aim to increase attendance and fan engagement. The company will also work its tech magic in minor league baseball venues, starting this year. In other major NASCAR news, the racing circuit announced that it is pulling its annual awards ceremony out of Las Vegas and taking its Champion’s Week to Nashville. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Awards will be held December 5 at the Music City Center.
  • While the NBA has a robust social media presence, viewership amongst its “core audience” – 18 to 34 year olds – is down 11% season to date and down almost 50% since 2010. According to JohnWallStreet, the league has over 35 million Instagram followers, 3.8 million fans on TikTok, and “several exclusive” Snapchat shows. But Commissioner Adam Silver acknowledged that the NBA, ESPN, and its partners AT&T and WarnerMedia have yet to figure out how to navigate today’s media landscape. The task at hand is “conditioning a new generation [of fans] that 8 p.m. on Tuesday is 8 p.m. on Tuesday. Because [they’re used to watching content on demand and the game] is perishable.” Silver believes that the NBA can “restore the demographic balance” with a “buy on the fly model” that enables fans to access the league’s most exciting games in progress. While this theory follows the predominant “snackable content” school of thought (aka highlights and look-ins), that tasty bites ultimately lead to fans consuming “meals” (complete games), with a large portion of the target demo opposed to paying for cable, it’s worth wondering if that strategy needs to be revisited.
  • Major League Baseball plans All-Star “Election Day.” As part of sweeping changes to its collective bargaining agreement, MLB and the MLBPA are planning to overhaul All-Star voting and create an Election Day for fans to choose the starters, sources told ESPN. An All-Star Election Day has been discussed but never implemented. Under the proposed plan, standard online voting will take place starting this year. The top three vote-getters at each position in each league would be on the Election Day ballot, and whichever players received the most votes on that single day would determine the All-Star starters. The sides view Election Day as “an opportunity to better engage fans and bring more excitement to the All-Star voting process.” The parties are also “discussing increasing prize money for Home Run Derby participants in hopes of convincing the game’s biggest stars to participate.” MLB and the union have also committed to discussing more complicated economic issues in the midst of the current agreement, which runs through December 2021.  Reaching any significant deal mid-CBA cycle is rare, and reflects that the current unease around today’s evolving free-agent market is not conducive to labor peace.

How you can see Overwatch League in D.C.

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USA Today Sports Images

How you can see Overwatch League in D.C.

Big news in the world of gaming broke on Friday, as the Overwatch League announced new details surrounding home and away matches for the 2020 season. Beginning next year, the matchups will take place all over the world as teams travel to the locations of each franchise.

One of those franchises is based locally in Washington D.C., meaning those in the area will now have the opportunity to Washington Justice compete for money and glory. While a location for the events that normally draw a few thousand in attendance has not been determined yet, e-sports is coming to D.C. in the near future.

Currently, the Overwatch League, which revolves around teams playing the first-person shooter game 'Overwatch', consists of 20 teams both in the United States and around the world competing in events throughout the spring, summer and winter months in order to take home prizes amounting to $5 million. The players on each team also earn a guaranteed salary.

The matches, which have teams competing on four different maps and earning a point for each map victory, have taken place at the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California. Special matches such as last year's Grand Final in Brooklyn attracted a crowd of around 18,000.

Besides attending competitions, the matches can be streamed on numerous platforms including Twitch, ESPN, Disney XD, overwatchleague.com, Overwatch League app and the Major League Gaming website and app, according to the league's website.