On Wednesday, Barracuda Captain John McCarthy began his journey to Pyeongchang, South Korea for the 2018 Winter Olympics, which will run from February 9th to the 25th. Throughout his time in South Korea, John will be checking in giving Cuda Country a run down of what it's like being an Olympic athlete.
Wednesday February 21st
Last night we lost in a shootout to a good Czech Republic team. We were tied 2-2 after regulation so we went into a 10 minute 4- on- 4 overtime. The overtime period was scoreless as well so we then went into a 5 player shootout. Each team got 5 shooters and the Czechs scored with their second shooter. Unfortunately, we were unable to get one past their goalie. With the win, they move on to the semifinals against Russia and our run in the tournament is over.
Although it wasn't the result we were looking for, I am extremely proud to have represented the USA in the Olympics. I'm proud to be a member of this team because we left it all on the ice every time we got a chance to play. Every member of that team was pulling their weight for the guy next to him and it was a fun team to play with.
That's all for me and I will be back with the Barracuda next week to help get ourselves into the playoffs!
Monday February 19th
Today was a practice day for us as we get ready to play Slovakia in the qualification round. We are familiar with them because we played them in the second game of pool play. They are a big strong team that defends hard and it won't be an easy game for us. With the skill and speed we have though, we can have success if we play our game and generate some offense. It is going to be a good game and I'm looking forward to getting back into a game after our loss to Russia.
After practice in the morning I just went back to the village to watch the women's team play Finland in the semi finals and do some laundry. My roommates and I are having a low key day to rest up for the game tomorrow. We will have a team meeting and meal tonight but for now it is about rest and recovery. I will check back in in a couple days after the next couple games.
Sunday February 18th
Today was an off day to spend with friends and family. I met up with my family for some lunch near the Olympic Village and then took them in for a quick tour around the area. The Olympic Village is basically like a college dorm, with a dining hall for all the athletes to eat.
Last night we had a tough game against the Olympic Athletes from Russia. Our effort was there but we just didn't get the result we were looking for and we lost the game 4-0. They are a strong team and they finished all of their scoring chances. We had opportunities of our own but we weren't able to capitalize.
The day before we played against Slovakia and won 2-1. It was a strong team effort with everybody contributing. We also got great goaltending from Ryan Zapolski and controlled the play for most of the game.
We finished the pool play with 4 points and we finished 3rd within our pool. We now have to wait until the games are played today in order to find out who and when we play next. We will have to play a qualification on Tuesday game before the quarterfinals. Depending on how the games go today there are a couple of different teams that we could play.
It was good to rest up a little bit today and I'm looking forward to playing the next game.
Editor's Note: John McCarthy and Team USA will play Monday 2/19 at 7:10 PM (2/20 12:10 KST) in a win or go home game against Slovakia. The game can be streamed through NBC Sports or you can watch live in primetime.
Thursday February 15th
Today was another practice day for the team. We went over the Slovenia game before practice and realized that we let the game get away from us in the third period. Instead of staying on top of them and pressuring them all over the ice like we did early on, we sat back and let them dictate the play. It's cliche but we have to be ready to play a complete 60 minutes in our next two games.
After the meeting we had a short practice to get us ready for a noon game tomorrow. We are going to be playing Slovakia, a very good team that beat Russia last night. They are going to be a tough team to beat but if we play our best I'm confident we can play with them. We need a bounce back game in a big way to start feeling good about our game. I liked the way we responded today in practice and am looking forward to our response in the game. We play a back to back so I will check back in in a couple of days to recap the games.
Editor's Note: While it is February 15th in California, it is actually February 16th in South Korea. With John being 17 hours ahead of everyone back home, the "noon game tomorrow" that John mentions is being played on the 16th in Pyeongchang but can be seen live tonight at 7pm on CNBC.
Wednesday February 14th
Tonight we played Slovenia and we came out strong, playing really well for the first two periods. We were forechecking, pressuring the puck, and generating good chances in the offensive zone. We went up 2-0 after the second period.
It seemed like we kind of laid off a little bit in the third. Instead of staying on the forecheck we sat back a little bit and Slovenia took advantage of their chance. They ended up tying the game up with about a minute and a half left. They went on to win the game in OT during 3-on-3 play. We had some chances to put the game away early but Slovenia's goalie played well and you have to give them credit. They hung around and took advantage of their opportunities.
The good news is we play again in a day and a half against Slovakia. We need a win in that game to pick up some valuable points within our group. We have a day of practice tomorrow to look at some things from the game and fix them for the Slovakia game. That's all for now.
Tuesday February 13th
Today was our last practice before our first game tomorrow vs. Slovenia. We woke up, had breakfast and headed to the main rink. This practice was our best so far; we had a lot of energy and we were executing everything very well. It was a pretty short skate that wasn't too taxing on our legs because we have a quick turnaround for our game tomorrow. We did a couple of shooting drills and some rush stuff and then worked on our special teams. I think we are ready to go and I'm excited to get started.
After practice we bussed back to the village and had a little bit of downtime. It was nice to have a couple of hours to just relax because it feels like we have been busy the whole time we have been here. Later on, we had a team meeting and team dinner at the village. After the meeting a lot of us went to the short track speed skating event. It was unbelievable to watch. There were all kinds of races; a lot of different distances, both men's and women's, and even a relay. Most of the races came down to a photo finish and the crowd seemed like they were really into it. We saw the women's 500m final and the South Korea woman (Choi Minjeong) finished second by a hair. The hometown crowd was loving it and it was a great atmosphere. I'm off to bed now to get ready for the game, I will check back in on Thursday to let you know how the game went.Monday February 12th
Today we started off with an earlier practice which was nice because we have been practicing in the afternoon for the past couple of days. Practice was good, we worked on some rushes and special teams work to tune ourselves up for our first game against Slovenia on the 14th.
After practice we came back to the Olympic Village and had some lunch. We had a little bit of downtime after lunch where I was able to make a couple of phone calls and relax a little bit. We then had our big Team USA Men's Hockey press conference at the main media center which is at the Mountain Cluster. It was fun to be able to see their village and some of the different venues for the ski events. The press conference was good, they had a few of the guys up on stage to answer questions from press from all over the world then everyone had some individual time with the media for a bit.
After the press conference we took the bus over to a local brewery for dinner. The food was awesome and the people here have been great. Everyone has been very helpful and genuinely nice. Tomorrow is also our last practice before our first game of the tournament. That's it for now!
Editor Note: USA Hockey published an article today which highlighted each player from the Men's Hockey team. Prior to the IIHF World Junior Championship, the late Jim Johannson assisted in the creation of a program designed to have each team member call at least one person – not a family member – to thank him or her for helping them get to where they are today. Click here to read about John's phone call with Pete Frates, a long time friend and former teammate.
Sunday February 11th
Today was another practice day. We had a later practice tha normal so we got to have breakfast and lunch as a team at the Olympic Village. It was nice to have a little bit of time in the morning to relax and finally unpack all of the apparel that we got from Nike and Polo.
After lunch we took a bus to the rink for practice. The team is looking better everyday and I'm excited to start the tournament to see where we stand against the other countries.
After practice we took a short bus ride to the second rink to watch the US Women's Team play against Finland. The US came out on top 3-1 thanks to goals from Monique Lamoureux-Morando, Kendall Coyne and Dani Cameranesi. It was a fun game to watch and came down to an empty netter by the US. Their team looks strong and should do well in the women's tournament. I'm off to bed now to prepare for another day tomorrow.
Saturday February 10th
Today started with breakfast in the dining hall followed by a presentation by the US Olympic Ambassador Program. It was basically a rundown of how the Olympics works and advice on how to carry yourself as an Olympic athlete. With this being my first time as an Olympian, it was helpful to hear those things from people that have been through this before.
After the presentation we had lunch and then headed to the rink for our team picture and a practice. The practice went well and now that I am in sync with the time difference, I felt a lot better on the ice. The team seems to be coming together well so I am excited to see how we will play in our games next week.
After practice we had dinner back at the Village and then went to check out a speed skating event. We watched women's long track speed skating which was pretty cool. Those women must be in unbelievable shape in order to skate for that long at full speed. We then took a shuttle home and now we are heading to bed for another practice day tomorrow.
Friday February 9th
Today we had our first practice as a team. A few of the guys had some delays with their flights but we had most of the team on the ice. It felt really good to get out and skate after a long day of travel yesterday, but it was also great getting to know my teammates. The Olympic Village is a pretty cool place. There are about 5 or 6 high rise buildings that all of the ice athletes live in. The setup in the rooms is nice with 5 guys in a 3 BR suite style apartment. The cafeteria is in the building next to my place and it's a pretty wild scene. It looks like something straight out of a movie with all the different countries' athletes sitting in one place with everyone wearing their national colors.
Tonight was also special because we got to walk in the Opening Ceremonies and it was one of the coolest experiences of my life. The stadium was packed and the people of South Korea seem very excited to be hosting the Olympic games. Tomorrow we have our team picture day and then another practice in the afternoon.
Wednesday February 7th
What's going on Cuda Country? I flew to Seoul this morning on a direct flight from San Francisco. The flight itself took 12 and a half hours, which is definitely the longest flight I've ever taken. I spent the time split between watching movies and doing a little bit of reading. When I finally got to Seoul I met up with some of the other guys on the team. While I know some of the guys, there are plenty of players who I had not met before so it was good to meet everyone. We are now on a 4 hour bus up to the Olympic Village which is where we will be staying while we are here. There are actually two Olympic Villages in South Korea; we are at the coastal village and there is also a mountain village. That is where all of the mountain sport athletes will be staying. Tomorrow we start practice and then we will get a chance to march in the Opening Ceremonies which I'm really looking forward to. I'll be sure to check in again soon!