BEIJING 2022 Canadian women's hockey Game 3: Six scorers help toward win over ROC despite mask drama
Updated: Feb 11, 2022
Canada’s third game at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games, versus the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), saw the red and white dominate once again, this time with a 6-1 victory, despite puck drop being delayed in Beijing for about an hour due to COVID-19 concerns.
The long delay was resolved with both teams deciding to wear masks under their helmets and six different goal scorers boosting Canada to its third straight win in preliminary action. Canadian forward Melodie Daoust of Valleyfield, Que., remained out of action due to injury, while teammate Emily Clark of Saskatoon, Sask., warmed up on ice but did not play due to an inconclusive COVID test.
“We heard some discussions were being had and that our game would be delayed," Canada coach Troy Ryan told Sportsnet. "Our coaching staff stayed in the coaches’ room, we updated the players but we really didn’t have any timelines on the delay or how long it would be. Once the delay happened, we told our athletes there would be an opportunity for another warmup, and when we went out for the warmup, we were told both programs agreed to wear masks for the game. We told our girls to put their masks on and it was business as usual.”
Forward Sarah Nurse of Hamilton, Ont., opened the scoring for the Canadians barely two minutes into the game on an assist from team captain Marie-Philip Poulin of Beauceville, Que., Poulin worked the puck loose from an ROC defender and made a great pass to Nurse, who went top shelf. Thirty seconds later, forward Sarah Fillier of Georgetown, Ont., scored her fifth goal of her first Olympic appearance on assists from Renata Fast and Jamie Lee Rattray.
Netminder Emerance Maschmeyer of Bruderheim, Alta., also in her first Olympic appearance, stopped several difficult chances in the first period, including ROC's Valeri Pavlova on a breakaway. She also executed a perfect poke check on a close-in chance to keep the puck out.
Canada successfully killed off three penalties, including a four-on-three opportunity for ROC, which, has yet to score on a powerplay in Olympic Winter Games preliminary round action. Canada ended the first period on a powerplay and leading 2-0 over ROC.
ROC took a couple of penalties to start Period 2, with Rattray capitalizing at 14:05 from veteran Natalie Spooner and Nurse. With a 3-0 lead, the Canadians picked up the tempo in the middle frame, with defender Erin Ambrose of Keswick, Ont., shooting through traffic after walking the blueline beautifully to make it 4-0 over ROC.
Seventeen-year-old ROC goalie Daria Gredezen was relieved teammate by Maria Sorakina shortly after Canada took that 4-0 lead. Gredezen played well, facing 34 shots. Sorakina was tested quickly after taking the crease, when powerful forward Laura Stacey of Kleinburg, Ont., was left alone in front of the net on an ROC powerplay.
With 2:38 left in the second period, Anna Shokina put ROC on the scoreboard on a two-on-one play, going short side to put it past Maschmeyer. This marked the first goal ROC had ever scored on Canada in Olympic completion, which was a “ a perfect gift,” ROC forward Alexandra Vafina told CBC later.
To add more intrigue to the game, ROC started the third period with no masks, while the Canadians chose to continue wearing masks. But the mask or no-mask drama didn’t stop Canada’s powerplay from coming through, with fast-footed forward Rebecca Johnston of Sudbury, Ont., scoring on assists from Fillier and Poulin.
Minutes later, on their second powerplay of the period, Poulin scored her first goal of the tournament from a pass through the goal crease by Brianne Jenner of Oakville, Ont. A third powerplay resulted in a Fillier goal being called back on a ROC coach’s challenge that showed an offside at the blueline.
The closest the Canadians came to their seventh goal was a shot off the post by Spooner, who leads the tournament in points with 10 overall.
Canada outshot ROC 49-12 and move on to their next game, in less than 24 hours, against rivals the United States.
Gina Kingsbury, Hockey Canada's Director of National Women's Teams, later said in a statement from the National Sport Organization (NSO) that, "with limited information at the time, our team came to an agreement with ROC to delay the start of today’s game."
"It was further agreed upon that, out of an abundance of caution, all players would wear masks for the game," she explained.
As a side note, the author of this piece watched Russia play at the 2013 IIHF Women's World Championship in Ottawa, and the fans I sat alongside in the stands all agreed that the country might soon challenge Canada and the U.S. In fact, the Russians ended up winning bronze in Ottawa and finished fourth at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, China.
Meanwhile, Team China is suffering from numerous COVID-19 absences. And as CBC broadcaster and Team Canada alumna Cheryl Pounder and several other women's hockey experts have pointed out, this could be the best Team's Canada roster ever assembled. That being said, Russia is not losing ground in its race for gold at the Olympics.