Don't know who Ryan Zapolski is? You're not alone. Even the most knowledgeable hockey fan would have trouble identifying the likely starting goaltender for the U.S. men's team at the Pyeongchang Olympics.
The NHL's decision not to allow its players to represent their homelands in these Winter Games sent national hockey federations scrambling to fill their rosters. Suddenly, scouts were watching video of players toiling in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League and European elite and secondary leagues, seeking candidates who might have been too small or too slow for the NHL or were late bloomers and would welcome an unexpected shot at Olympic glory.
Kirill Kaprizov’s quick shot from the right circle during a power play gave the Olympic Athletes From Russia a 4-3 overtime victory over surprise finalist Germany and the gold medal in the men’s Olympic hockey tournament.
Kaprizov, whose NHL rights are owned by the Minnesota Wild, had a goal and four assists after he ended the game and the tournament nine minutes and 40 seconds into sudden-death play. Teammate Nikita Gusev, whose rights are owned by the Vegas Golden Knights, had two goals and two assists.
The gold medal was the first won by the team known variously as the Olympic Athletes From Russia / Russia / the Unified Team since a 1992 triumph in Albertville, France, as the Unified Team.
John Shuster’s last throw in the eighth end of the Olympic curling final clacked off one Swedish stone and knocked it into another, sending them both skittering out of scoring range.
Five yellow-handled American rocks were left behind.
The score, known as a five-ender, is so rare it has only been topped once before in the history of the men’s or women’s Olympic final. And it effectively clinched gold for Shuster’s erstwhile “rejects,” who rallied from the brink of pool play elimination to claim only the second curling medal ever for the United States.