Feb 16, 2022; Beijing, China; Slovakia celebrates after beating the United States of America in the men s ice hockey quarterfinal during the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games at National Indoor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: George Walker IV-USA TODAY Sports

After the Slovak men’s hockey team defeated the United States hockey team in the quarterfinals of the Beijing Olympics, the Slovak players naturally celebrated. But even their enthusiasm couldn’t quite measure up to what some of their young fans were doing back home.

Miroslav Šatan, a longtime hockey player and current President and General Manager of the Slovak Ice Hockey Federation, posted a video of a youth team in Slovakia watching the game during practice. Their reaction upon seeing Slovakia win the game will bring a smile to the face of even the most die-hard American fans.

These kids and anyone else who watched were treated to a fantastic hockey game.

The United States scored a goal late in the first period to tie the game. After taking the lead in the second period, the Americans seemed to be in control but could never expand upon their 2-1 lead. The Slovaks withstood every American push, including a 5-on-3 Power Play in the third period. With less than a minute left in regulation, Slovakia’s Marek Hrivik scored to tie things up.

After 10 minutes of overtime yielded no goals, the game went into a shootout. Slovakia scored only once on a goal from Peter Cehlarik but wouldn’t need more than that. Patrik Rybar stopped all five American shots, sending Slovakia to the semifinals.

Next up for Slovakia is a semifinals matchup against Finland. That will take place on Thursday at 8:10 p.m. EST. We can only imagine what the reaction of these kids will be if Slovakia wins that game and especially, the next one. Regardless of how the remainder of the tournament goes, the Slovak team has clearly made a big impact on the next generation of hockey players in its homeland.

[Miroslav Satan]

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