GRAND FORKS – Jake Sanderson’s Olympic experience is over.
It’s barely started.
After Sanderson was sidelined with an upper-body injury, the USA lost 3-2 on penalties to Slovakia in the quarterfinals of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China on Tuesday night.
The Americans went undefeated in the preliminary round and secured the tournament’s No. 1 medal spot. But they won’t take home their first men’s hockey medal since winning silver in 2010.
Slovakia equalized the game in the last minute when their goalkeeper was pulled into extra time. After a goalless 10-minute three-on-three extra session, the game ended in a penalty shootout.
All five US shooters — Michigan’s Brendan Brisson, Harvard’s Sean Farrell, Minnesota’s Matthew Knies, MSU-Mankato’s Nathan Smith, and 2011 Hobey Baker Award winner Andy Miele of Miami — were disqualified. Slovakia scored once against American goalkeeper Strauss Mann and reached the semifinals.
It’s been a bumpy Olympic experience for Sanderson, UND’s star defenseman as a sophomore.
He tested positive for COVID-19 in Los Angeles before leaving for the Olympics. After four consecutive negative tests, he was allowed to fly to Beijing and join his American teammates who left a week earlier.
Sanderson missed USA’s first game against China due to the COVID delay.
Sanderson featured in USA’s second game, playing 16 minutes and 59 seconds in a 4-2 win over rivals Canada on Friday, but he sustained an upper-body injury that sidelined him for the remainder of the tournament – a preliminary round match – against Germany and the quarter-final against Slovakia.
USA Hockey consistently listed Sanderson as day-to-day. US head coach David Quinn told the Associated Press that it was in doubt whether Sanderson would return to medal-round games.
Sanderson skated in practice Monday but did not participate in contact drills, according to the Associated Press.
AND coach Brad Berry was asked about Sanderson’s condition on Saturday night – less than 24 hours after the injury.
“I’ve had a few text messages back and forth and talked to his dad for a bit,” Berry said. “Pooly (AND athletic trainer Mark Poolman) spoke to USA Hockey officials for a bit there. I think they listed him on it daily. At the end of the day, I think the communication should make sure you do that Go through the log to make sure what it is before attempting to play a game.
Now Sanderson will return to Grand Forks and be re-evaluated.
There’s virtually no chance he’ll play Minnesota Duluth this weekend (8pm Friday, 7pm Saturday).
After that, AND has two regular-season series left – at home against Western Michigan (February 25-26) and in Omaha (March 4-5).
The National Collegiate Hockey Conference playoffs begin March 11-13 with a best-of-three first-round series. The top four seeds get home ice cream for the first round. The second-placed Fighting Hawks have a chance to secure home ice with back-to-back wins this weekend.
The NCHC Frozen Faceoff will be held March 18-19 at St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center.
The NCAA tournament begins with regional tournaments March 24-27 in Loveland, Colorado, Allentown, Pennsylvania, Albany, NY and Worcester, Mass.
The Frozen Four takes place April 7-9 in Boston.
Sanderson has been UND’s all-time leading player this season, scoring seven goals and 24 points in 21 games. The Ottawa Senators’ No. 5 draft pick of 2020 also had some setbacks.
He missed two games against Minnesota Duluth in November through illness and two more games against Colorado College in December through injury. He’s missed the last four — home series against Omaha and Colorado College — because of the Olympics.
Sanderson captained the US World Youth Championship in December, but the U20 tournament was canceled after just one game due to positive COVID-19 tests.
A former AND player marched on.
Goalkeeper Matej Tomek, who played at UND from 2015-17 before joining Omaha, is in the Slovakia squad. However, he did not dress against the Americans.