MALAGA, Spain - February 3, 2018 - The 5 Nations Tournament came to a close for the U.S. Men's National Team following their match against No. 10 Ireland. The team played well containing the opposition when tested, but a major penalty ultimately proved to be the turning point in a 4-2 loss.
USA was determined to put on a good show in their last game of the tournament. Going on the offensive from the opening whistle, the red, white and blue kept the pressure on for the majority of the opening quarter. Ireland, surprised by the attacks, took a few minutes to realize the game was coming at them. The first quarter ended 0-0, with the upper hand going to USA. In the second frame Ireland switched tactics and went man-to-man, which USA's coaching staff recognized immediately and sent the message to the field via the players who also adjusted quickly. The game remained fairly even until the 19th minute where Ireland's John McKee finished a quick counter attack for the 1-0 score.
At the half, USA's locker room chat at the half was to continue to be aggressive and press as much as the game would allow them to do so. The physical, fast-paced battle continued and the turning point came in the 40th minute with Tyler Sundeen (Simi Valley, Calif.) receiving a 10-minute yellow card. The call rattled USA, losing focus and allowing two quick scores to give Ireland a 3-0 lead. The team played well to contain Ireland the remainder of the penalty. Back to full strength USA had an opportunity to close the gap when Ireland were given multiple green cards and a yellow card. This allowed USA to attack and earned a penalty corner in the 52nd minute which was converted by Aki Kaeppler (Stuttgart, Germany). Unfortunately, Ireland netted a goal moments later to snuff the momentum. A long drag flick in the 56th minute was then perfectly executed by Sean Cicci (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) to make the final score 4-2.
"We came here to play the best teams in the world and we are fortunate to be invited to tournaments of this caliber," said Rutger Wiese, USMNT Head Coach. "This in itself is a compliment to men's hockey in the United States. The way the team played for 12 out of 16 quarters shows that we can compete with teams ranked much higher than us. The boys understand what is required and the learning will continue as we practice against Chile for two games before returning home."