Ryan Zapolski (#30) and Noah Welch (#5) celebrate after defeating Slovakia in the men's play-offs qualifications game at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 on Feb. 20, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea.
With his father Ted, a 1992 U.S. Olympian and the head men’s hockey coach at Harvard looking on, Ryan Donato literally set the U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team on the path to victory in a do-or-die situation Tuesday.
Donato, a Harvard junior, scored bookend goals in the game and Troy Terry, a University of Denver junior, added three assists as Team USA defeated Slovakia 5-1 to qualify for the quarterfinals of the Olympic tournament, where the U.S. men will play Czech Republic Wednesday.
The Donatos are now the only father-son hockey combination in U.S. history to both score in the Olympic Winter Games. Ted Donato arrived in PyeongChang on Sunday and was watching his son play as an Olympian for the first time on Tuesday, and Ryan Donato delivered.
Ryan broke open the win-or-go-home game 1:36 into the second period finding Terry on a short break. Slovakia goalie Jan Laco pushed the shot away, but the puck got pushed back up to Donato in the lower left circle for the shot and score. The goal set off a series of hits by frustrated Slovakians that resulted in two major penalties on the very next shift for a 5-minute, 5-on-3 power play for the U.S.
On Slovakia’s next trip down the ice, Ladislav Nagy skated into 31-year-old U.S. goalie Ryan Zapolski, sending him to the ice, but Team USA maintained puck possession for a delayed penalty. Defenseman Michal Cajkovsky elbowed Donato in the head and received a match penalty for the infraction.
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James Wisniewski, a defenseman who has played only on the power play the entire tournament, rifled a slapshot from the left circle to beat Laco over the near shoulder 18 seconds into the two-man advantage.
Despite the lengthy power play, Zapolski had to come up with bug saves over the 5-minute span.
Slovakia brought the heat after the power play expired, and Zapolski made several saves, including a huge one on a blazing point shot from Marek Hovorka midway through the period.
Mark Arcobello made it 3-0 for Team USA when he skated down the slot and took a threaded feed from behind the net from Terry, who picked up his third assist of the night.
Peter Ceresnak finally solved Zapolski on a power play with 3:06 left in the second after Jordan Greenway of Boston University took a slashing penalty, making it 3-1 heading into the final period on the only goal surrendered by the Team USA penalty killers the entire Olympic tournament.
Garrett Roe made it 4-1 for Team USA with a goal midway through the final period. Donato added one more with 3:14 remaining to conclude the scoring.
Gary R. Blockus is a journalist from Allentown, Pennsylvania who has covered multiple Olympic Games. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.
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