Winter Olympics hockey review: Success and failure for Team Canada

February 17, 2022September 12th, 2023

The Winter Olympic hockey road for Canada comes to an end for another cycle and the end of the road is both sweet and bittersweet.

The men’s tournament started off strong for Canada, securing a convincing 5-1 victory against Germany in the first game. The pace of the game was set by Team Canada, scoring three times within 11 minutes of the first period.

Second game of the tournament started off in a similar manner with Mat Robinson of Team Canada finding the net with just over a minute played. However, the opposing team, Team USA, provided more of a challenge. Team USA tied the score after a minute and took the lead at the end of first period. The final lightning was struck at 46:13, Team USA taking the win by 2 goals.

With the loss in mind, it was time to face the host country China. Their team consisting mostly of the state-owned Kunlun Red Stars of KHL. Team Canada opened the scoreboard after two minutes of play and kept the goalkeeper busy for the whole game finishing 5-0.

Due to the round robin results the next game would be against the host country again. After three periods of an eventful game, the scoreboard read 7-2 for Team Canada. The shaky wins against China were a preview of what’s to come.

Next up was a much stronger opponent, Sweden. Contrary to the previous game this was almost as uneventful as could be. With everything at stake, both teams sat with nearly identical stats all the way until the last period. The third period brought all the action, and unfortunately for Team Canada, it was Sweden who scored twice. This marked the end of the road for Team Canada.

Overall, the expectations for this year were not too high. The absence of NHL was obvious in the men’s competition, making the Games more unpredictable than before. The final loss to Sweden in the quarter-finals meant Canada was left without a medal for the first time in 12 years.

Total domination

The story in the women’s tournament was completely different. The dominating win this year ties Canada in overall Winter Olympics hockey medals with the US and marks the fifth gold. The tournament overall was a one-sided show for Canada.

Starting from the preliminary rounds, where the team scored 33 times in four games. None of the teams managed to provide any challenge as Team Canada cruised through only letting in five goals.

Moving on to the quarter and semi-finals the team showed no signs of slowing down. Getting two more double-digit goal games, beating Sweden 11-0 in the quarter-finals and Switzerland 10-3 in the semis, Team Canada secured a final spot while being unbeaten in the tournament.

The games against US were the only ones where Canada had less puck control and less shots on goal. However, due to the amazing performance of the goalkeeper Ann-Renee Desbiens that did not matter.

Before Thursday, Canada had scored 54 times, an Olympic tournament record, and had three women – Brianne Jenner, Sarah Fillier and Jamie Lee Rattray – among the top five scorers in Beijing.

After the first goal was challenged by US due to Sarah Nurse being offside, an assessment that was held by the officials, it only took 35 seconds to bounce back, with Nurse scoring and paying back the previous offside mistake. Team USA managed to strike back twice in the whole final making the end score 3-2 for Team Canada.

The match on Thursday was a familiar one. The sixth gold medal game between Canada and US since 1998 in Nagano when women’s hockey was added to the sports of the Winter Olympics.

Taking home gold for the fifth time since 1998 proves that Canada is an undeniable titan of the game.

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