Inspired U.S. drops Italy in a hurry LILLEHAMMER 94

February 22, 1994|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,Sun Staff Writer

LILLEHAMMER, Norway -- American speed skater Dan Jansen scored another victory yesterday, even though he didn't put on a pair of skates.

U.S. hockey coach Tim Taylor was searching for additional motivation Sunday night for his young and inexperienced team, so he showed them a videotape of Jansen winning his gold medal here Friday afternoon.

An inspired U.S. team scored five first-period goals and easily defeated Italy, 7-1, to advance to the quarterfinal round.

Seeded fourth in Pool B, the United States (1-3-1) tomorrow will play Finland (5-0), the top seed in Pool A.

"I can't say it made us win, but it was pretty positive," said U.S. forward Peter Ciavaglia. "Here was a guy that had been to the Olympics, lost, came back, fell, then finally wins a gold medal.

"The media knocked him, but he remained focused on his goal. It was a very uplifting moment."

Said U.S. forward David Sacco: "I don't think anybody cried or went crazy, but to see him win on his very last race was something special. It put us in a positive frame of mind, and we need that sometimes."

There was other motivation for the United States. The Americans entered the game needing a victory or a tie to advance. Italy (1-0-4) had to win to move on.

Plus, the Americans hadn't won a game yet. If they had lost to Italy, it would have been an embarrassment. Twelve of Italy's 23 players are Canadians, two are Americans. The players obtain dual passports because of parents or grandparents who were born in Italy.

Taylor was looking for an edge. Any edge.

"What you saw tonight was a hungry animal,an animal that was looking to survive," said defenseman Peter Laviolette, the U.S. captain. "It's amazing what you can do when you're scared."

The United States pressured Italy from the opening faceoff with intensity and a fast-paced offense and had a 3-0 lead 8:58 into the game.

At that point, Italy goalie David Delfino, who grew up in Massachusetts, was benched.

"We felt a lot of pressure," said Taylor. "We're talking about taking six months of our lives and throwing it away in a night. None of us envisioned us being here, but the stark reality was we had to beat Italy."

This may have been the spark the Americans needed. Their average age is 22. On occasions, they have been brilliant, such as the third period of every game and a solid effort against Canada.

But after yesterday's game, combined with the third period against Sweden, the Americans have four solid periods.

So what if three of them were against Italy? The Italians beat France, which tied the United States, 4-4, to open the Games.

"I know Finland has had a marvelous tournament and they have some great players, but if you were Finland, would you want to play us?" asked Ciavaglia.

"We're unpredictable, don't really have a style yet, but we go hard all the time. Now we finally score seven goals in a game. I don't think they're intimidated, but they're concerned. Very concerned."

But Finland has outscored its five opponents 25-4. Italy was allowing six goals a game.

"I'm not sure we deserved to win the second and third periods -- we gave up too many two-on-ones and three-on-twos," said Taylor. "We've got to work on that. We can't succeed with play like that against Finland. But we did what we needed to do tonight, score the first goal and play with enthusiasm."

It took the United States only 1:50 to get a goal as Ciavaglia scored on a slap shot through Delfino's legs.

Forward Peter Ferraro, after defenseman Robert Oberrauch fell down, scored on another slap shot 2:09 later.

Sacco, on the power play, scored from the right of the goal at 8:58 and Delfino was headed to the bench.

Afterward, Ciavaglia said he felt sorry for the Italians. After finishing his college career at Harvard, he didn't know if he would play again.

He thought about playing for Italy, but failed to get the required paperwork.

PD "It's an opportunity to keep playing, and those guys hustled and

never gave up," said Ciavaglia. "My grandmother watched this game. I don't know if she cried for Italy or celebrated with us."

* In yesterday's other Pool B games, Canada defeated Sweden,

3-2, and Slovakia beat France, 6-2.

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