2014 Winter Olympics: Women’s hockey still a force to be reckoned with

(Contributed photo)
(Contributed photo)

In their opening game, the Canadian women’s hockey team proved they were going to be a dominating team in Sochi 2014.

Saturday morning, the red and white cruised over Switzerland with an “easy” 5-0 win. By the end of the opening period, Canada had outshot the Swiss 29-3; clearly indicating their high position in this tournament.

But they weren’t the only ones who shined opening day.

The Americans set their mark on Finland, defeating them 3-1. Just hours earlier, they had set a women’s Olympic record when Hilary Knight scored on a breakaway just 53 seconds into the game.

It looks like it’s going to be another case of USA vs. Canada.

Canada is looking at defending their fourth-straight medal in Sochi; an attempt that would mark Olympic history for any women’s team.

And yet in pre-season the squad lost four straight games to the Americans in a six-game exhibition series.

They are considered the “underdogs” this Olympic season.

And why is that? Despite sending eight rookies on their roster this year, team Canada has veteran experience of almost 20 years.

Of course, I’m talking about Hayley Wickenheiser. Flag-bearer, assistant captain and five-year Olympic expert, Wickenheiser is still a hockey all-star at the age of 35. Wickenheiser scored against the Swiss shorthanded on a breakaway.

Canada also boasts Meghan Agosta-Marciano, a two-time Olympic gold medalist. Agosta-Marciano was the top scorer at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics with nine goals and six assists and was also voted most valuable player and best forward.

Perhaps the uneasiness goes hand-in-hand with the team’s administration. Dan Church, the head coach departed the red and white just two months before the opening ceremonies. Now, new coach Kevin Dineen has to guide a team with a very different playing style that he is used to in the NHL.

Dineen also has been criticized for over-conditioning his girls — training them extremely hard in combination with games. Dineen admitted that his team is getting “tired” and has a new plan for the squad.

And it looks like it’s working.

After Saturday’s 5-0 blowout, Canada is taking on a “one game at a time” strategy.

Next up on their list is Finland, who they will play on Monday.

And I can assure you that this game will be an indicator as to where the red and white stand on Sochi soil. 

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