Slovak youth hockey team erupts as country defeats U.S. to advance in Beijing Games

·2 min read
A youth hockey team in Slovakia provided one of the most wholesome moments of the Beijing Winter Games.
A youth hockey team in Slovakia provided one of the most wholesome moments of the Beijing Winter Games.

Few things are as thrilling as an underdog story on the Olympic stage, as we were once again reminded on Wednesday.

Slovakia’s men’s hockey team defeated the United States 3-2 in a tense shootout to upset one of the tournament's favourites and advance to the semifinals.

As his countrymen celebrated the big win, former NHLer Miroslav Satan shared a video of a young Slovak hockey team on the ice for practice back home, watching goaltender Patrik Rybar make the decisive final save before absolutely erupting in euphoric cheer along with their heroes in China.

The adorable clip made the rounds on Twitter, warming hearts and even comforting disappointed American hockey fans, who had high expectations for a team that entered Wednesday's contest undefeated and with a win over Canada already in the records.

Slovakia forced overtime in dramatic fashion on Wednesday, with Marek Hrivik scoring the equalizer with under a minute of play left and their net empty after his team trailed for most of the game. Peter Cehlarik scored the sole goal of the shootout and Rybar sealed the win with a save heard 'round the world.

This is the first time that the Slovaks has reached the semifinals in men’s Olympic hockey since the 2010 Vancouver games, when the late Pavol Demitra led the tournament in points on the way to Slovakia’s fourth place finish.

This is the second-straight time Team USA's men have failed to make it past the quarterfinals in the Winter Games. Four years ago in Pyeongchang, the Americans lost their quarterfinal game to the Czech Republic. The U.S. hasn't medalled in the men's event since their runner-up finish in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games.

Slovakia will take on the Russian Olympic Committee in the semifinals on Thursday.

Canada also takes the ice in quarterfinal action on Wednesday, facing Sweden after a play-in win over China.

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