US men’s hockey team, including Alaskan Brian Cooper, headed to Olympic quarterfinals on Tuesday

Brian Cooper of Anchorage and his Team USA teammates are headed to the men’s hockey quarterfinals at the Beijing Olympics.

A victory there will put them in the semifinals and give them a clear shot at a medal. Semifinal winners will face off for gold and silver; semifinal losers will meet for the bronze.

Cooper, a 28-year-old who played at Dimond High, has contributed one assist and lots of ice time in three preliminary games for the undefeated Americans.

The United States went 3-0 to win Group A and seize an automatic quarterfinal berth. Next up for the Americans is a game at 7:10 p.m. Tuesday Alaska time against the winner of Monday’s qualification-round game between Germany and Slovakia.

Cooper is a defenseman who capitalized on the NHL’s decision in late December to not pause its season to allow players to participate in the Olympics. USA Hockey quickly put together a team using college players and pros who play in leagues other than the NHL. Cooper, who plays for Oskarshamn of the Swedish Hockey League, is one of eight team members who came from Europe’s pro leagues.

Cooper scored a point in his first game as an Olympian, providing the second assist on the seventh goal of an 8-0 victory over China last week. He was plus-4 while logging 16 minutes and 40 seconds of ice time, and his playing time increased with each subsequent game.

[Read more about Alaskans and the 2022 Winter Olympics]


He played 19:25 in a 4-2 win over Canada — Team USA’s first Olympic win over Canada since 2010 — and was on the ice for 24:41 in Sunday’s 3-2 win over Germany.

Other group winners claiming automatic spots in the quarterfinals are Russia, Finland and Sweden.

Canada needs to beat China in a qualification game early on Tuesday to advance. Its roster includes former UAA player Mat Robinson, who score a goal in Canada’s 4-2 loss to the U.S.

Semifinals are late Thursday and early Friday, Alaska time. Both medal games are scheduled for Saturday.