OLYMPICS roundup


HOCKEY

Czechs bounce USA in SO

GANGNEUNG, South Korea

Instead of waiting for his turn for this Olympic shootout, T.J. Oshie was sitting at home along with the rest of the NHL.

Four years after his shootout heroics in Sochi, Oshie could only watch helplessly halfway around the world as Chris Bourque, Ryan Donato, Marc Arcobello, Troy Terry and Bobby Butler got their chances against the Czech Republic with a berth in the semifinals on the line.

And it was Ryan Zapolski in net instead of Jonathan Quick, who was back in North America on the bench for the Los Angeles Kings’ 60th game in an NHL regular season that rolled on, right through the Olympics.

Little-known Czech Republic goaltender Pavel Francouz stopped all five Americans in the shootout and Petr Koukal scored as the United States was eliminated with a 3-2 loss Wednesday in the quarterfinals.

Francouz did his best impression of legendary countryman Dominik Hasek, though Donato also had him beat and lost the puck. Gone by a matter of inches was a chance to knot the shootout at 1-all, and now the Americans will head home while the Czechs get a semifinal game against the powerhouse Russians, who beat Norway.

“It always comes down to the smallest plays and I think at the end of the day you’ve got to be able to capitalize on those plays to win a game,” said Donato, who scored his fifth goal of the tournament in regulation. “It didn’t go the way I wanted it to and we wanted it to, but it comes down to those things.”

Zapolski, a Mahoning Valley Phantom from 2005-07, got better throughout the Olympics, and he stopped 18 of 20 shots in regulation and overtime against the Czechs.

The Americans were inches away from a victory several times — when Brian O’Neill clanked it off the bottom of the post with 2:40 left in the third period, when Bobby Sanguinetti’s shot left the puck sitting in the crease in the final moments of overtime, when Donato couldn’t get the puck past Francouz at the side of the net.

And then came the shootout and another close call for Donato.

“He was making pretty good deke,” said Francouz, who plays for Traktor Chelyabinsk in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League. “He was all over me already, but he kind of lost the puck in the end.”

Friday, the Czech Republic will play Olympic Athletes From Russia in one semifinal. Canada will play Germany in the other. The ninth-seeded Germans stunned top-seeded Sweden, 4-3, in overtime.

FIGURE SKATING

Russians poised for medals

GANGNEUNG, South Korea

Friends, rivals, and soon, medalists.

The only question is: Which Russian teen figure skating star will end the nation’s gold medal drought?

Alina Zagitova or Evgenia Medvedeva will almost certainly take gold in one of the Winter Games marquee events after they went 1-2 in the women’s short program with the highest scores ever. The 15-year-old Zagitova and the 18-year-old Medvedva train with the same coach, hang out together and set world records just minutes apart.

With a dominating lead over the field, their friendly competition is the main drama left when the women compete in the free skate Friday. All of Russia is waiting for the first gold medal of the Pyeongchang Olympics by its Olympic Athletes.

CURLING

Russian medal to be returned

GANGNEUNG, South Korea

Russian curler Alexander Krushelnitsky will give back his Olympic bronze medal after failing a drug test at the Pyeongchang Games, a spokeswoman for the Russian Curling Federation told state TV.

Krushelnitsky tested positive for the banned substance meldonium, which is believed to help blood circulation, after winning bronze in mixed doubles with his wife, Anastasia Bryzgalova.

“We have signed a statement that indeed he did have (meldonium in the sample) and as a result we will give the medal back,” Russian Curling Federation spokeswoman Valentina Parinova told state TV channel Russia 1.

Associated Press

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