Day: February 3, 2022

USA women’s hockey romps Finland in 2022 Winter Olympics opener

By Joe Pantorno – amNY

The USA women’s hockey team passed its first test of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing with flying colors, defeating Finland 5-2 in the tournament’s opening game. 

Kendall Coyne Schofield and Alex Carpenter each recorded two goals to pace the Americans, who thoroughly dominated a Finland team that entered the Olympics ranked No. 3 in the world by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF). The US outshot Finland 52-12 in the victory, including a second period in which they yielded just two shots on goal.

Midway through the first period, the US lost one of its most productive veteran forwards in Brianna Decker due to a significant lower-body injury that required her to be stretchered off the ice.

While it could have been a moment for Team USA to lose concentration — especially considering the bench was visibly shaken up while Decker was on the ice — they found an opener just over one minute later.

Amanda Kessel, playing in her third Olympics, drove down the left icing line toward the Finnish net, cut in front of goal, and finished under netminder Anni Keisala with 9:23 to go in the frame.

Just 2:23 later, their lead was doubled on the power play when Carpenter wristed one home from the left circle over the shoulder of Keisala.

Coyne Schofield took over in the second when she scored both of her goals in a 64-second span to firmly put the United States in the driver’s seat.

With 5:32 gone in the frame, Coyne Schofield snapped a wrist shot from the right circle through the blocker side of Keisala to put the United States up three. Entering the zone down the right-wing, she meandered down to the right dot and used the opposing defenseman as a screen to cut down the netminder’s visibility.

Her second showed off a supreme set of hands, redirecting a wrister from the point out of mid-air, approximately waist-high, to highlight the captain’s brace.

USA goaltender Maddie Rooney spoiled her own shutout in the third period to provide a consiliatory goal for Finland. After taking a delay-of-game penalty by playing the puck in the restricted area, she was beaten by a wrister from Susanna Tapani 3:15 into period. It was Finland’s first shot of the third after being held to just two shots in the second.

Carpenter got it right back for the Americans when she picked up her second of the day, redirecting a centering pass from Abby Roque right in the crease.

Tapani got her second with 2:20 to go in regulation — though it wasn’t made official until the final buzzer sounded. Her shot was originally deemed by the officials to ring off the post rather than hit the back of the net, which continued play down to the expiration of the period. It wasn’t until that stoppage that the officials deemed that Tapani’s shot went in — forcing both teams to come back out on the ice and replay the final two-plus minutes.

Olympics: Japan beats Sweden 3-1 in women’s ice hockey opener

Source:  Kyodo News

The Japanese women’s ice hockey team made a winning start to its Beijing Winter Olympics campaign on Thursday, beating Sweden 3-1 after Rui Ukita scored a tie-breaking goal in the final period.

Japan came into the Group B clash at Wukesong Sports Centre having won two of its last three games against Sweden, including the most recent meeting in the preliminary round of the 2019 world championships.

After an unsettled start and an early two-minute penalty for too many players on the ice, Japan gained the upper hand in the opening period. With 47 seconds left until the buzzer, Shiori Koike gave her side the lead when she turned in a pass from Hanae Kubo.

The lead was short-lived, however, with Sweden tying it up just 30 seconds into the second period when Maja Nylen-Persson squeezed her shot past Japanese goaltender Nana Fujimoto.

Ukita netted the decisive goal with just over four minutes elapsed in the third, streaking down the right side and beating Swedish goalie Emma Soderberg.

As the Swedes searched for a desperation equalizer, Haruna Yoneyama added an exclamation goal for Japan, scoring into an empty net from long distance with 61 seconds left.

Japan, which led the shot count 40-27, stuck to its game plan of controlling the puck and trying to stifle its opponent when not in possession, forward Chiho Osawa said.

“The first game is really important, so I’m glad we won,” said Osawa, who plays for Swedish club Lulea. “As you can see from the number of shots, we were able to control play for long stretches.”

Sweden captain Michelle Lowenhielm said her team would look to quickly bounce back from a disappointing defeat.

“I think we should have (won) this game and it sucks to lose. But I believe in this team and we’ll turn this around,” Lowenhielm said.

Head coach Yuji Iizuka’s Japan team is aiming to improve on the country’s best-ever Olympic result of sixth. Japan will play Denmark in its next group game on Saturday, the day after the Olympic opening ceremony.

Canada crushes Switzerland to open Olympic women’s hockey tournament

Myles Dichter – CBC Sports

The Canadian women’s hockey team opened its Olympics with a 12-1 victory over Switzerland on Thursday in Beijing, but the win came with a cost.

Mélodie Daoust, a key part of Canada’s second line that combined for three goals in the first period, left the game and did not return following an awkward hit into the boards during the second period.

The 30-year-old, who won tournament MVP at the 2018 Olympics, appeared to favour her shoulder as she immediately exited to the dressing room following the collision.

The injury put a damper on Canada’s fast start which was led by Daoust’s linemate Sarah Fillier, the dynamic 21-year-old Olympic rookie.

“Just to step on that ice, see the [Olympic] rings, be in a building with Beijing 2022 written all over it and in this black jersey, it’s really cool,” Fillier told CBC Sports’ Kenzie Lalonde during the second intermission.

Fillier opened the scoring just over one minute into the game, knocking a rebound out of midair and into the back of the net for her first career Olympic goal at the Games.

The Georgetown, Ont., native was forced to wait an additional 10 minutes for confirmation as officials went to video review, but the goal ultimately stood as Canada’s icebreaker in Beijing.

Defender Renata Fast said the team was “pumped” for Fillier after she scored.

“Talk about making an entrance to the Olympics. To score on her first shift, to bat the puck out of the air, that is so skillful,” she said.

Fillier made sure to leave no doubt when she scored her second minutes later, ripping a slot shot over the blocker of Swiss goalie Andrea Braendli, who stopped 58 of a whopping 70 Canadian attempts on net.

“I circled out in front and the seas just seemed to part and I took my shot,” said Fillier, who completed her three-point period with the primary assist on linemate Natalie Spooner’s goal.

While Daoust was held off the scoresheet, she was on the ice for all three first-period goals as the “FillDaSpoon” line kept up the momentum it built at the world championships in August. Spooner finished the night with four points, including two goals and two assists.

Canada extended its lead over Switzerland with two goals in 15 seconds in the middle frame. First, Rebecca Johnston buried her own rebound to put Canada up 4-0 before Laura Stacey fired home her first of the tournament from below the goal line after an Ashton Bell dump-in caromed off the end boards.

Canada then capitalized on the power play stemming from the hit on Daoust as Spooner potted her second of the game. Blayre Turnbull scored her first of two goals soon after.

After Laura Stacey made it 8-0, Canada had more goals than Switzerland had shots on net (seven).

“I felt we were not ready and we have to learn from that,” Braendli said. “It was a hard game but it was fun to play against a bunch of great players.”

The Swiss quickly corrected that with a power play, testing Canadian goalie Ann-Renee Desbiens in the dying seconds of the frame. But the 27-year-old netminder was up to the task, sliding across her crease and stacking her pads to make her best save of the game.

Switzerland finally got on the board in the third period after Canadian forward Sarah Nurse was sent to the penalty box as forward Lara Stalder slid the puck under Desbiens’ pads and into the back of the net.

The Canadian goalie finished with 13 saves.

Turnbull, Bell, Erin Ambrose and Claire Thompson, who also added four assists, replied for the Canadians in the final frame.

The Swiss did manage to succeed in limiting Canadian captain Marie-Philip Poulin, who was held to a single assist. On Wednesday, Poulin, 30, was named Canada’s flag-bearer for the opening ceremony alongside short track speed skater Charles Hamelin.

Czechs beat China 3-1, win Olympic debut in women’s hockey

 Michaela Pejzlova scored on a breakaway with 13:33 left in the third period, and the Czech Republic capped its women’s hockey Olympic debut with a 3-1 win over host China.

Tereza Radova became her nation’s first woman to score in the Olympics by redirecting defender Aneta Tejralova’s pass to open the scoring 10:38 into a game the Czech Republic never trailed. Denisa Krizova also scored and Klara Peslarova stopped 13 shots.

China was outshot 36-14 in its first Olympic appearance since finishing seventh of eight teams in 2010. Mi Le scored and Canadian-born goalie Tiya Chen stopped 33 shots for a Chinese national team made up of mostly members of the Russian-based Women’s Hockey League’s Vanke Rays.

With the Czech Republic up 2-1, Pejzlova secured the win by beating Chen through the legs after being set up by a blue-line-to-blue-line pass from Pavlina Horalkova.

Fans — each with a blue-colored Olympic flag to wave — were seated socially distanced in two corners of the lower level of Wukesong Sports Centre. There were also about two dozen male and female cheerleaders who lined the rail above the first level. The cheerleaders wore dark blue jerseys with “Ice Hockey” printed on them, and performed a dance to techno music before the start of each game and during the intermissions.

More AP Winter Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/winter-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

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