U.S. fashions one stylish tie

February 18, 1994|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,Sun Staff Writer

LILLEHAMMER, Norway -- The U.S. hockey team already has produced "A Miracle On Ice" in the 1994 Winter Olympic Games. Three games. No wins. No losses. Three ties.

And now two penalty shots in one game.

The Americans staged another comeback yesterday, as forward Todd Marchant scored a power-play goal with 28 seconds remaining to force a 3-3 tie with Canada.

The U.S. team's ties with France and Slovakia were disappointing because those were teams the Americans were expected to beat.

But Canada (2-0-1) had been the king of Group B, and Team USA wasn't expected to provide much of a challenge.

But Canada's Fabian Gerard Joseph was called for a hooking penalty with 42 seconds left in the game. (Sound familiar? Slovakia's Peter Stastny got a seven-minute penalty that sparked the U.S. team to two goals on Tuesday.)

After Joseph's penalty, U.S. coach Tim Taylor called a timeout and pulled his goalie. Marchant took a pass from David Roberts on the left of the goal from about 12 feet, and drilled a shot past goalie Corey Hirsch.

"Nobody likes to tie, but in this case this is as good as a win," said Marchant. "When you're ahead and somebody comes back to tie, you feel as though you've lost. When you're behind, and you come back to tie, it's like a win."

More importantly, it puts the Americans in good position to advance to the medal round.

The top four teams from the pool advance. Team USA (0-0-3) is in fourth place with three points, and France (0-2-1) is fifth with one point. Both have two games remaining -- Team USA plays Sweden (2-0-1) and Italy (0-3). France plays Slovakia (1-0-2) and Italy.

If the Americans win one of their remaining games, France must win both of its games to grab the fourth spot.

"We're unbeaten, so that's three games and three points," said Taylor. "Boy, have we had a lot of heart-stoppers in the last three games?

"But the key today was special teams," said Taylor. "We haven't had a game yet where we excelled in that area. Today, we did."

Team USA had four two-minute penalties in the first 15 minutes of the game, but didn't allow a goal in those situations.

And then there was the game-winning goal.

"They played the zone and we went behind the net," said Marchant. "When the puck came out top to Mr. Roberts, they started running back to grab the rebound.

"I just took the shot," Marchant said. "It felt great."

Only minutes earlier, Marchant was involved in setting up the second penalty shot of the game. Canada's Craig Johnson was on the break, and Marchant was called for tripping in front of the U.S. goal.

Fortunately for the U.S. team, goalie Garth Snow stopped Johnson's shot and later snuffed him on the penalty shot with 7:49 remaining in the game.

"I can't remember the last time I saw two penalty shots in a game," said Taylor.

Team USA's Peter Ciaviglia said he sees them called a lot in Sweden, where he plays in an off-season league. Referee Bengt Johansson of Sweden made the call.

"I've been checked like that a lot of times," said Marchant. "I saw our Craig Johnson coming across, but he wasn't going to get there in time. So I just tackled their guy."

The other penalty shot came with 7:51 left in the second period. Team Canada forward Petr Nedved was one-on-one with Snow when Snow apparently tried to poke-check him, and his stick left his hand.

Snow was called for throwing his stick, and Nedved beat him for a goal on a penalty shot to tie the game at 2.

It was one of the rare defensive lapses by Team USA after the first period. Canada clearly had better stickwork, and the Canadians showed it in the first period when they had numerous one-on-one opportunities.

But Team USA played gritty defense in the last 10 minutes of the period, and it carried over for the rest of the game.

Another key was stopping Canadian forward Paul Kariya, who was the No. 1 pick in the 1993 NHL entry draft. Kariya was flashy with his no-look and between-the-leg passes, but he never dominated the game, as he did when he led Maine to the NCAA championship last season.

The Americans slowed him after the first period and established themselves as an offensive threat in the second.

Forward Brian Rolston scored the first of his two goals six seconds into the second period after taking a pass from David Sacco. Rolston put Team USA ahead, 2-1, with his second goal 8:37 later.

"I think that's when we let them back in the game," said Canada's Greg Johnson. "We came out with great intensity and they came out a little flat. Then in the second period, they picked up the intensity, and started feeling good about themselves."

The Americans ended the game that way, too. In the locker room, spirits were high and everyone looked forward to playing Sweden tomorrow.

"We know we're not the most gifted team," said U.S. defender Peter Laviolette, the team's captain. "But you won't find any quitters on this team. We play hard the entire time, and that's all you can ask from a team. We usually don't leave with our heads down."

Especially not after last night.

* In other games yesterday, Sweden beat France, 7-1, and Slovakia, another probable playoff team, routed Italy, 10-4.

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