The United States won their third straight game after they beat Switzerland in dominant fashion, 8-0 on Sunday. They got things started with a goal five minutes into the game, and didn’t look back. It’s common to see a team let up after it races out to a commanding lead, but the United States continued to score.
The Americans had a very strong game, and a lot right, but they had one area that needed improvement. Their offense and goaltending were outstanding throughout the game, but they need to remember to stay disciplined and not take unnecessary penalties, as their penalty kill struggled in their first game against Finland on Feb. 3. Their scoring came through in that game, and it did again when they took down Switzerland.
United States Offensive Power on Display
Clearly with eight goals scored the United States had no trouble on offense, and they had seven players record multi-point games. Alternate captain Hillary Knight got her team on the board first with a power-play goal. She scored another goal in the first period to put the team up 3-0, and give her two points in the game. Forwards Jesse Compher, Kelly Pannek, and Amanda Kessel all had a goal each in the first period to put the Americans up 5-0.
They continued to score in the second and third periods, but on a smaller scale. Both Pannek and Compher scored their second goals of the game in the middle frame to give their team a demanding 7-0 lead. Finally, in the third period, Dani Cameranesi scored her first goal of the game, and the final for her team, to end the scoring, 8-0.
Of the seven players who had a multi-point game: Knight, Compher, and Pannek each had two goals. That left Kessel, Megan Bozek, Cayla Barnes, and Jincy Dunne. Kessel scored a goal plus an assist while Bozek, Dunne, and Barnes each tallied two assists. Out of all the scoring, there was one surprising player who was kept off the scoreboard: Kendall Coyne Schofield. Even without her scoring, their offensive game was strong and while their goaltender didn’t face many challenges, she stood tall.
United States Goaltending Strong
In the three games the United States has played so far, a different goaltender has played in each one. Maddie Rooney got the start in the Americans’ first game against Finland, and Nicole Hensley was the starter for the second game against the Russian Olympic Committee. In their third game against Switzerland, it was Alex Cavallini’s turn, and she didn’t disappoint. She faced 12 shots and stopped them all to give her team its second-straight shutout of the tournament. The most impressive thing about her performance was her ability to keep herself in the game. It can be easy for goaltenders to become sloppy when they don’t face many shots, but not Cavallini.
She stayed focused and helped her team get its third win. Switzerland had two power plays during the game, and she stepped up when needed to keep her shutout. The goaltending was a strong point for the United States, but there is one area they need to focus on before their upcoming game against Canada.
United States Special Teams
Thankfully for the United States, there was only one problem in their play they’ll need to fix going forward, and that’s staying out of the penalty box and remaining disciplined. They had two penalties against Switzerland, but their penalty kill was 100 percent. However, against Finland, they let in two goals while shorthanded and nearly gave Finland a chance at a comeback had time not run out. Against a strong team like Canada, the United States can’t afford to give them any power-play chances.
3-0— Olympic Hockey on NBC (@NBCSportsHockey) February 6, 2022
Next up: Canada pic.twitter.com/OLm58X6Hfn
On the opposite side of things, their power play has done well in all three games they’ve played, that included their game against Switzerland. They’ve scored three goals on the power play, one in each game. Luckily for them, Canada has been the highest penalized team in the tournament thus far, and the United States will have to capitalize on any power-play chances they receive and potentially make it past Canada.
United States Versus Canada
In the final game of their preliminary round, the Americans will face Canada, who’s established early on they’re the team to beat for the gold medal. Both the United States and Canadian players have been together for multiple Olympic Games, and they’ve both been the strongest teams throughout those years. This game, despite being in the preliminary round, will have all the competitiveness of a gold medal game.
Since the first time, women’s hockey was played in the Winter Olympics in 1998, either Canada or the United States has taken home the gold. Over those six Winter Olympic Games, the United States has won two gold medals, while Canada has the other four. In the most recent games held in PyeongChang in 2018, the United States stole the gold in a shootout after they lost to Canada in the preliminary round.
The United States will have to put it ints best effort to make it past Canada. It’ll be a tough challenge, but after their recent wins, the Americans shown they are capable to go all the way. They’ll face Canada on Monday, Feb. 7 at 11:10 pm eastern time to finish up the preliminary round.
Mariah Holland is a contributing Minnesota Wild writer for THW. She’s been covering the Wild at THW since October of 2020 and specializes in game takeaways and weekly check-ins. She is always looking for different angles to cover the Wild and dig deeper into the stories surrounding the team to help fans connect on a more personal level and to keep an eye on the latest follow her on Twitter @MariahEStark.