TURIN, Italy (AP) - They could hear the singsong chants of "I-tal-ia" when they came out of the dressing room. Even the fans knew this was Italy's big chance in the Olympic men's hockey tournament.
John Parco responded with an early goal, then Christian Borgatello thrilled them with a shorthanded score with 1:32 left that put the host country on the brink of victory. But Germany's Marcel Groc answered 15 seconds later, forcing a 3-3 tie Saturday that probably means neither team will advance out of the group play round.
"Ah, it was crushing," Italian goaltender Jason Muzzatti said. "It would have been beautiful for our fans."
The only two teams in Group A without a victory remained that way, moving to 0-2-1. Without pulling off an upset to win at least one of their two remaining games, Italy and Germany won't reach the quarterfinals.
"I'm not a big a fan of these mathematical equations," German coach Uwe Krupp said. "We want to play a strong game tomorrow, then we'll see where we stand."
Italy still has games left against the Czech Republic and Switzerland. Germany also plays the Swiss, then Finland.
This was Italy's first overwhelming advantage in the stands. The early arriving crowd brought plenty of flags, with two upper-deck sections combining to form a giant one using green, white and red balloons.
"This was the best crowd, by far the loudest," defenseman Bob Nardello said.
Feeding off that support, Parco beat German goaltender Olaf Kolzig 2:03 into the game for Italy's first goal in five periods and first lead of the tournament. Parco helped put them up 2-1 early in the third by setting up a goal by Tony Iob.
Germany's Sven Felski tied it again soon after, then with time running out and the Germans on a power play, Borgatello scored on a 2-on-1 rush.
Krupp called a timeout, then pulled Kolzig for an extra skater. Kolzig looked up and pumped his arms in relief when Goc scored, silencing a crowd that had still been buzzing over the 3-2 lead.
"It's like a roller coaster - you're high and then you come right down low," Iob said. "It hurts, but we have to get back on the horse."