Women’s Olympic Hockey started on Wednesday night, a whole two days before the opening ceremony. The favorites in the tournament Canada and the reigning gold medalist United States both played in those first two days. Beyond just the favorites, the tournament marks the return of China’s women’s team, which has not played in the Olympics since 2010, and the debut of Denmark’s women’s team. Many important narratives were swimming around these first two days, which people might have missed because the games happened before opening ceremonies.
Canada vs. Switzerland
Final Score: 12-1
Shot count: Canada: 70 Switzerland: 15
Canada: Blayre Turnbull (2), Natalie Spooner (2), Sarah Fillier (2), Laura Stacey (2), Claire Thompson (1), Rebecca Johnston (1), Ashton Bell (1), Erin Ambrose (1)
Switzerland: Lara Stalder (1)
Takeaways: Canada is incredible. 70 shots and 12 goals are awe-inspiring. Last Winter Olympics, the Canadian team took silver after losing to Team USA in the shootout. This year they seem intent on showing off that they have the caliber team to challenge the reigning champion, USA, for that gold medal. Also, Sarah Fillier certainly doesn’t look like a first-time olympian or the youngest on her team.
China vs Czechia
Final Score: 3-1
Shot Count: Czechia: 36 China: 14
Czechia: Tereza Radova (1), Denisa Krizova (1), Michaela Pejzlova (1)
China: Mi Le (1)
Takeaways: Czechia placed first in Group B in the World Hockey Championships in Calgary, Alberta. They came out and played like it. China, however, did not look thoroughly and utterly outplayed; they managed to score, and since this is the first women’s hockey team from China we’ve seen compete in the Olympics since 2010, that is a good sign for their confidence and abilities in this tournament. China’s goalie C. Tiya also made 33 saves, which is impressive.
USA vs. Finland:
Shot count: 52-12
USA: Kendall Coyne-Schofield (2), Alex Carpenter (2), Amanda Kessel (1)
Finland: Susanna Tapani (2)
Takeaways: Even though they didn’t score 12, the USA without Brianna Decker (who was injured at the beginning of the game) still dominated it. Team USA is 7-0 in Olympic opening games. They limited Finland to only 5 shots in the 1st period, 1 in the 2nd, and 6 in the third. Their speed was incredible, and their defense was just as impressive with their offense 5 on 5 as both of Finland’s goals came on the power play. Team USA handily beat the third-place team in the world, establishing themselves again as the reigning champions and team to win this Olympics in Beijing.
Russia Olympic Committee (ROC) vs. Switzerland
Shot count: ROC: 31 Switzerland: 30
ROC: Yekaterina Dobrodeyeva (1), Anna Shibanova (1), Polina Bolgareva (3)
Switzerland: Lara Stalder (1), Alina Muller (1)
Takeaways: This match had the most shot parity, and it is definitely interesting to see. Switzerland had a bit of a bounce-back game after only managing 15 shots and one goal against Canada, which was a positive sign. Russia placed fourth last Olympics and while it seems like their goaltender is definitely better than Switzerland is, are they better than reigning bronze medalist Finland? That question remains to be answered.
Sweden vs. Japan:
Shot Count: Japan: 39 Sweden: 27
Japan: Shiori Koike (1), Rui Ukita (1), Haruna Yoneyama (1)
Sweden: Maja Nylen-Persson (1)
Takeaways: Sweden has medaled at past Olympics. While Japan’s team was favored over Sweden this year, it is still an impressive stand-out moment for Japan to assert themselves as a favorite in Group B. They placed second in Group B during the World Hockey Championships in Calgary and now are shooting to medal, but they have to be one of the teams to make it out of Group B first. If they continue to play how they did in this game, they should hold on with the best of them.
Denmark vs China:
Shot count: China: 31 Denmark: 23
China: Lin Qiqi (2), Lin Ni (1)
Denmark: Malene Frandsen(1)
Takeaways: This was Denmark’s women’s hockey team’s Olympic debut. They did a decent job; managing to get 23 shots on goal is an impressive feat, especially when other teams had been limited to 12 or 14. This is impressive for the Chinese team that started their Olympics only a day earlier with a loss. It was good to see them bounce back and take a win.