The Canadian National Women’s Team kicked off their revenge tour at the Beijing Olympics late on Wednesday night and into Thursday morning for the viewing pleasure of Canada’s most passionate hockey fans. It was also the first time seeing the new Hockey Canada jerseys in action, which made it nearly impossible to see the numbers on the back, but the game on the ice was far more important. Canada waltzed their way to a 12-1 victory over Team Switzerland in a dominating effort, outshooting the Swiss 70-15, but it may have been a costly game for them regardless.
After a long time away from the rink, the Canadian National Women’s Team finally got the chance to get back on the ice against some live competition. Like a wild animal caged for the first time, they kicked down the door and took ownership of the game immediately. The Canadians are expected to be frontrunners for a gold medal, but for the amount of time off since their last game, to hit the ground running as they did was impressive.
With a quick goal from Sarah Fillier, the Canadians proceeded to put up the numbers quickly. Goals from Natalie Spooner, Blayre Turnbull, Laura Stacey, Ashton Bell, and Erin Ambrose helped Team Canada run away with a dominating win over the Swiss, who finished in fifth at the 2018 Olympics in South Korea.
This was a game that Canada was expected to have control of from the start, and it serves as yet another reminder that the world has some catching up to do in women’s hockey compared to the powerhouse Canadians and Americans. Despite that, the Canadians used this game to get their special teams going. On the power play, they connected on two of their four chances, and on the penalty kill, they killed off six of Team Switzerland’s seven chances on the power play. No matter who the competition is, those are numbers that head coach Troy Ryan will be happy with.
The games will get tougher from here for Team Canada, of course, but this should serve as a confidence booster for everyone. The nerves should be somewhat settled for those who got their first taste of Olympic action, and they should be amped up and ready to go again when they step back on the ice in a few days’ time to take on Team Finland.
Sarah Fillier’s Big Game
Fillier has been touted as the next big thing to hit the women’s hockey scene, and if you paid any attention to her game, you would know why. The 21-year old is currently playing in the NCAA with Princeton University, where she scored 57 points in each of her last two seasons. She is accustomed to scoring in big numbers, but the Olympics are an entirely different beast, but it didn’t take her long to score her first goal in the tournament.
Just a minute and four seconds into the contest, Fillier had her first Olympic goal. She batted the puck out of mid-air and into the net behind Swiss goaltender Andrea Braendli. After a lengthy review, it was determined to be a good goal, but her second goal was just around the corner. Fillier scored her second of the contest just six minutes later on a rocket of a shot from the slot, showing some of the skills that have made her a deadly offensive threat at the collegiate level.
Moments after, Fillier would get in on the action once again, this time with an assist on Spooner’s first goal of the game. The youngster had quickly proven exactly why she has been called a generational talent, among other things, and exceeded even the highest of expectations in her first game. Fillier fit in beautifully and gave us a glimpse into the future, but also the present and what is to come now.
Melodie Daoust’s Health
Unfortunately, it wasn’t all good news coming out of Canada’s win. Linemate of Fillier and Spooner, Melodie Daoust, left the game with an apparent shoulder injury after a hard hit along the boards that led to a power-play chance for Canada. There have been no updates on her injury or how long or if the team expects her to miss any of the games at the Olympics.
The Most Valuable Player of the 2018 Olympics is crucial to the Canadian roster and worked nicely with Fillier and Spooner on the second line. If this is going to keep her out of the lineup for any period of time, it would be a massive loss of not only a talented player but also a veteran leader who is in a position to take some of the young players under her wing. Best case scenario is having Daoust back as soon as possible, but that doesn’t seem likely right now.
Tuning Up for What’s Ahead
The opening game for Team Canada offered a taste of what is to come at the Olympics for the National Women’s Team, but it was a good chance to tune-up for their upcoming games. With games against Team Finland, the ROC, and Team U.S.A. to come before the medal rounds, this is likely the end of the “easy” games for Canada. They will be tested in the upcoming days, but it’s something they should be more than up for.