GREENSBORO, N.C., JULY 26 -- Mike Richter could see his Olympic dreams flying past him. A goaltender for the U.S. National ice hockey team the past two years, Richter was having an awful game Friday, allowing seven goals in his last period of his last game at the U.S. Olympic Festival.

"I picked a great day to do it," Richter said. "It was 2-2 and I was feeling pretty good, and then 15 minutes later they're laughing at you."

Richter was one of 80 players going through an emotional wringer this week at the Festival. A gold medal would have been a nice souvenir, but the real goal was to be selected for the 1988 Olympic tryouts. Richter was one of those selected following the championship game tonight.

"It's agony to go to the final hours, waiting to see if you get cut," said Dave Peterson, who will coach the 1988 team.

The group selected will attend a week-long training camp beginning Aug. 7 in Lake Placid, N.Y., after which further cuts will be made. After playing more than 60 exhibition games beginning Aug. 14, 23 players will remain on the team that goes to Calgary in February.

Because of their experience and performance in international competition, some players who have had a weak Festival still made the cut. Others needed a strong Festival to get onto the list.

"The Festival is more competitive this year because there is more at stake," said Clark Donatelli, a Boston University leftwing who made it. "There's lots of tension and pressure.

"If you can't see it, you can definitely feel it. There's quite a lot of tension in the dorms. Guys will say, 'Do they like him?' or 'What are they looking for?' "

Donatelli's West team had not scored a goal until it erupted for nine against Richter's East squad. Donatelli had two.

"The guys were really tense," Donatelli said. "The tension builds and then the frustration builds because you're not scoring. Then people say, 'I'm not doing enough -- I've got to do more.' Instead, they should just try to relax. But that's very hard."

Most of the players know each other from collegiate or international competition, but that doesn't lessen the competitiveness.

"The best example," Donatelli said, "is that there are eight or nine guys here from the University of Minnesota, and every time they play against each other, they're trying to kill each other."

One member of the 1984 Olympic team was assigned to each Festival team to answer players' questions. David Jensen, a Washington Capital who is currently a free agent, was with East team.

"I don't tell them much, but if they come with questions, I try to answer them and be encouraging," Jensen said.

Professionals will be allowed to play in the 1988 Olympics. The Amateur Hockey Association of the United States, which opposed the rule change, is attempting to use amateur players with a few exceptions.

So far, two NHL players -- Washington forward Steve Leach and New Jersey goalie Chris Terreri -- have received invitations to the Lake Placid camp. But Peterson said they have been given no guarantees of making the final roster.

"We made no commitments to their teams, and no commitments to them," Peterson said. "Part of my agreement with my bosses was that I wanted there to be no guarantees. If we lost players, so be it. The one thing I wanted was 22 players {plus a third goalie} that wanted to be here. If they were interested in being somewhere else, then it's better that they were there."

Capitals General Manager David Poile said he agreed to allow Leach to play because it might help his development. Poile said Leach's contract will be "put on hold" if he makes the Olympic team.

"They wouldn't have chosen him if they didn't think he was one of the better players," Poile said of the no-guarantees policy. "If for some reason they didn't want him, obviously he would come back to us. But I think they've seen enough."

Richter was hoping the men on the selection committee had seen enough of him to know that he won't give up nine goals very often.

"I don't think one game will make a great difference," said Richter, who plays at Wisconsin and was a 1985 second-round draft pick of the New York Rangers, prior to the announcement. "I practiced well and played strong on Tuesday. It's hard to look at a goalie individually, but the team was not playing poorly enough for nine goals. I'm accountable."

Richter said he thought about the consequences of his mistakes while he was playing, but said he couldn't think too much about what all this meant.

" . . . I've got to look at it like every shot is mine," he said. "If I start saying, 'What might happen now?' then I might really lose it. You say that, but when you see the reality so close, it can be tough to deal with."