Olympic hockey is finally back after four long years. The expanded field of 10 teams began their action on Thursday and the first four games were filled with triumph and heartbreak.
Czech Republic 3 – China 1
The first game of the tournament was between China and the Czech Republic.
The Czech Republic took the opener, 3-1 with Klara Peslarova stopping 13 of 14 shots. Denisa Krizova, Michaela Pejzlova, and Tereza Radova each found the back of the net for the Czech Republic
On the other side, Tiya Chen (Tia Chan) faced 36 shots, making 33 saves. Me Li (Hannah Miller) scored China’s first Olympic goal in 12 years.
Canada 12 – Switzerland 1
In terms of production, there’s nothing more Canada could’ve asked for in this win. The entire lineup contributed with the back end picking up three of the 12 goals. Four players, Sarah Fillier (2), Erin Ambrose, Ashton Bell and Claire Thompson, picked up goals in their first-ever Olympic appearance. Canada’s other goals came from Natalie Spooner (2), Laura Stacey (2), Blayre Turnbull (2), and Rebecca Johnston.
The young Fillier showed no signs of nerves in the game, scoring both of her goals in the first period, one of which led to a lengthy review. She along with her teammates put up 70 shots on Andrea Braendli who made 58 saves. Ann-Renne Desbiens stopped 14 of 15 shots in the win with the ononly Swiss goal scored by Lara Stalder.
As fantastic as Canada feels after such a dominant win, there is the shadow of Melodie Daoust’s injury looming. She took a hit from Sarah Forester along the boards in the offensive zone and was slow to get up. She skated to the bench and went to the dressing room, clutching her arm.
The only update provided by Team Canada did not state whether or not fans should expect to see her back in the lineup for the next game or beyond. Should she be out long-term, Canada’s forward group will have a tall task attempting to fill the hole left by her absence.
Sweden 1 – Japan 3
The goal scorers for Japan were Shiori Koike, Rui Ukita, Haruna Yoneyama while Maja Nylen-Persson scored Sweden’s lone goal.
Nana Fujimoto stopped 26 of 27 shots in the win. Emma Soderberg made 33 saves, allowing three goals.
Finland 2 – United States 5
After being left off the 2018 Olympic roster and battling her way back, Alex Carpenter showed her offensive prowess in her team’s first game of the tournament, racking up two goals in the win.
Two-goal games were not exclusive as Kendall Coyne-Schofield also found the back of the net twice. The other USA goal came from veteran, Amanda Kessel.
Everyone thought the game ended 5-1 when the buzzer went but it was discovered that Finland had scored on an earlier play and was missed. They replayed the last 2:20 and the game ended in a 5-2 win for USA. The two Finnish goals were scored by Susanna Tapani.
Like Canada, USA’s win feels bittersweet. Brianna Decker, one of their most impactful players, got tangled up with a Finnish player and was injured. She was stretchered off the ice and was later seen watching the game on crutches with a boot. Team USA announced following the game that Decker’s injury will keep her out for the duration of the tournament.
Day 2 will feature two games:
Denmark vs China – Group B
ROC vs Switzerland – Group A