A dominant Canadian performance was not the biggest story to come out of the Canada vs Russia Olympic Committee (ROC) game as Canada continued its dominance over Group A during the Olympic women’s ice hockey tournament.
With a delay of 65 minutes before the puck was dropped, the third match in the group stages for both Team Canada and ROC did not disappoint once the game got underway.
With play scheduled to start at 12:10pm local time, the game did not get underway until 1:15pm local time, with Canada not leaving its dressing rooms after returning post warm-ups.
Reports coming out were indicating that Canada was refusing to come out and play until receiving COVID-19 test results from ROC, although this was not confirmed by any official body, including the IOC or IIHF, but was confirmed post-game by Canada forward Natalie Spooner.
“Russia’s results from this morning weren’t back in yet,” she said.
“I know in the past few days they’ve had a few positives and we just wanted to make sure their results came back and we were safe to play.”
The IIHF issued a statement post-game that read:
“With a view to ensure the full understanding of the teams about the health and safety measures in place, the start of preliminary round game between Canada and ROC was delayed by an hour. Out of caution and concern for the health and safety of the players, the IIHF agreed with the participating teams to play the game with masks on.”
By the start of the third period, the referees and linepersons as well as ROC stepped back on the ice without the N95 face masks, while Canada continued to play masked up.
Again, reports were filtering out indicating that those test results had been returned with all players testing negative, and the choice was made by Team Canada to continue playing masked up. This was also confirmed post-game by Spooner.
“They said their results came back and they were all negative and said they were going to take their masks off.”
“We figured we’ve already done it for two periods, why not just keep being extra-safe for one more period and make it through.”
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As far as the game itself went, Sarah Nurse opened up the scoring for Canada early on in the first period, with Sarah Fillier not far behind as the two continued their dominance from the previous game against Finland where Fillier and Nurse combined for the opening four goals (Nurse later getting a hat-trick), and Fillier who scored the opening two against Switzerland.
The second period was much more of the same as Jamie Lee Rattray and Erin Ambrose added their names onto the scoresheet for Canada, although ROC scored one late into the second to cut Canada’s lead to three heading into the third period.
The Canadian dominance continued in the third, with Rebecca Johnston scoring her second of the tournament and the captain Marie-Philip Poulin adding her name to the scoresheet for the first time in the tournament allowing Canada to run out 6-1 winners over ROC.
Out shooting ROC 49-12, Team Canada has now amassed a whopping 167 shots on goal while only allowing 56 shots on goal in its opening three games, aggregating a mass score of 29-3 against the opposition.
Canada has also scored five times on 12 power play attempts (41.67 per cent), helping to offset the amount of penalties taken, which is still one of the biggest concerns for the Canadians, and will continue to be unless they find a way to become more disciplined.
With a combined 14 penalties throughout the opening two games for Canada, it was added to with another four penalties against ROC for a total of 18, an average of six a game.
While they have still only conceded once (which was with two players in the box against Sweden), it seems very unlikely that Canada will be able to maintain this level of penalty killing throughout the tournament. If they do, it will be an achievement to be celebrated.
Remaining undefeated throughout the group stages so far, this sets up a thrilling match against the other currently undefeated team, the USA. The winner of this game will get the highest seeding in the finals as it will be the final group stage game for both teams.
Canada might have to do it without forward Emily Clark however. She was removed from the game by the coach and medical staff for Team Canada after the line-ups had been submitted, and did not see any ice-time during the game.
Canada v USA is scheduled to take place on February 8 with a 3:10pm AEDT puck drop (12:10pm local time).
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