The Canadian women’s hockey team continues to score goals in bunches, showing defiance in the face of critics who have accused the defending Olympic champions of running up the score.
Canada scored in double digits for the third straight game Wednesday after a 13-1 thrashing of Sweden, the silver medallist from the 2006 Turin Games. With the win, Canada finished on top of the Group A preliminary round standings.
Canada (3-0) has four days to fill before the Olympic women’s semifinal round Monday, when they’ll play the loser of Thursday’s final Group B game between Finland and the United States. Sweden (2-1) faces the Group B winner in the other semifinal.
Canada outscored its opposition 41-2 in the preliminary round, including an 18-0 thumping of Slovakia and a 10-1 defeat of Switzerland. Canada’s image seemed to take a hit after piling on the offence, and players received emails calling them “classless” and “disrespectful” following the Slovakia game.
Davidson felt her players opened slowly against Switzerland, not playing to their maximum, because the negative comments had them feeling conflicted.
But any such conflict seemed to disappear against Sweden, a team Canada has had nasty games against recently. Canada was on top of the Swedes from the drop of the puck and beat them by the most lopsided score since a 15-1 win in the 1990 world championships.
“We have a job to do and we’ve worked hard all year to put together a team that maybe can do that job,” Canadian head coach Melody Davidson said. “They’re still conflicted. There’s no two ways about it. They look like it sometimes in the dressing room.”
But with the final looming Feb. 25, the Canadians want to make sure they are ahead on goal differential should their opponent have the same record. The team with the better goal differential will be the home team. Canada’s is currently plus-39, while the U.S. is at plus-24 heading into their game against Finland.
“We’re not going to worry about what people are saying behind the scenes,” said forward Meghan Agosta of Ruthven, Ont., who led Canada with a hat trick Wednesday.
“We’re going to worry about us and what we can do to continue on with our success. We’ve worked real hard and we know what we want and that’s to be in that final game. We have one more hurdle to hop and that’s that semifinal game.”
Agosta took over the tournament scoring lead with eight goals after her second hat trick. Toronto’s Cherie Piper and Gillian Apps of Unionville, Ont., each chipped in with a pair of goals in front of 5,483 at the University of British Columbia’s Thunderbird Arena.
Jayna Hefford of Kingston, Ont., captain Hayley Wickenheiser of Shaunavon, Sask., Marie-Philip Poulin of Beauceville, Que., Sarah Vaillancourt of Sherbrooke, Que., Haley Irwin of Thunder Bay, Ont., and Tessa Bonhomme of Sudbury, Ont., also scored for Canada.
Wickenheiser, who became Canada’s all-time leading goal scorer in Olympic tournament with her 16th, also had four assists in the game. Montreal forward Caroline Ouellette had three.
Katarina Timglas scored the lone goal for Sweden on a third-period power play.
Kim St-Pierre of Chateauguay, Que., faced just four shots over two periods in the win. Davidson inserted Charline Labonté of Boisbriand, Que., in the third period, giving the goaltender her first work of the tournament. Labonté turned away eight of nine shots.
Kim Martin, the heroine of her country’s semifinal upset of the U.S. en route to a silver medal in 2006, was replaced by Sara Grahn after giving up a 10th goal on 33 shots. Grahn made 16 saves.
While the Canadian women have spent six months training together and have played 55 games during that time, the Swedes put in less preparation with about 30 games over 3 1/2 months.
“Canada is the powerhouse of women’s hockey,” Swedish head coach Peter Elander said. “They have a coaching staff that is unbelievably good. They have worked with their players since the first of August to achieve another level of women’s hockey and it happens every fourth year.
“Our team is much better than it was in Torino, but unfortunately Canada hasn’t stopped developing. My team is really, I can say, pissed off over their performance.”
Sweden beat Canada for the first time on Nov. 7, 2008, with a 2-1 overtime victory in Lake Placid, N.Y., but Canada has defeated the Swedes eight times since then by a combined score of 49-6. The Swedes have a young roster with an average age of 22, compared to Canada’s average of almost 27.
The Canadians used stretch passes to score their first three goals off transition in the first 13 minutes of the game. Sweden’s defence collapsed in disarray around Martin after that. They left gaps that Canada exploited mercilessly.
“We wanted to send a message that when we’re ready to go, they’re not standing beside us,” Piper said Wednesday. “We’re going to go hard and put them where they belong.”
Agosta is one away from a Canadian tournament record for goals at the Olympics. She’s tied at eight with retired forward Danielle Goyette.
The 23-year-old was a rookie in the 2006 Olympics and has become one of Canada’s most consistent producers with linemates Ouellette and Hefford.
“I’ve definitely improved,” Agosta said. “It’s not my goal to go out and score every game. My goal is to go out there and play my game and use my abilities and try my best to help out Canada.”
Elander was disappointed his team did not give Canada a tougher game, but believes his team can recover for the semifinal.
“In Torino, we lost 8-1 and it was the same kind of game, but we regrouped and played a really good game in the semifinal and the final was good, so we’re going to look back at 2006 what we did,” Elander said.
02:17 – PEN – G. Andersson, tripping
06:58 – GOAL – Agosta (Piper, Ouellette)
07:52 – PEN – Eliasson, roughing
09:16 – PP GOAL – Poulin (Agosta, Wickenheiser)
13:00 – GOAL – Piper (Wickenheiser, Sostorics)
15:27 – GOAL – Vaillancourt (Johnston, Sostorics)
15:57 – GOAL – Bonhomme (Agosta)
17:50 – PEN – Kingsbury, holding
21:06 – GOAL – Agosta (Hefford)
25:14 – GOAL – Hefford (Ouellette, Kellar)
25:36 – GOAL – Wickenheiser (Apps)
26:13 – GOAL – Apps (Irwin, Piper)
27:26 – PEN – G. Andersson, high sticking
27:59 – PP GOAL – Agosta (Ouellette)
29:17 – GOAL – Piper (Wickenheiser)
29:59 – PEN – Nevalainen, tripping
31:43 – PP GOAL – Irwin (Vaillancourt, Ward)
33:15 – PEN – Timglas, slashing
33:15 – PEN – Timglas, roughing (serving at 35:15)
35:48 – PEN – Holst, tripping
40:23 – PEN – Sostorics, hooking
47:43 – GOAL – Apps (MacLeod, Wickenheiser)
51:31 – PEN – Kellar, tripping
52:16 – PP GOAL – Timglas (Jordansson, Rooth)
54:32 – PEN – Poulin, body checking
58:05 – PEN – Rundqvist, interference
W: St-Pierre (4-4), Labonté (8-9)
L: Martin (23-33), Grahn (16-19)
SHOTS ON GOAL
23+20+9 = 52
2+2+9 = 13
Goaltenders: Charline Labonté, Kim St-Pierre. Defence: Tessa Bonhomme, Becky Kellar, Carla MacLeod, Meaghan Mikkelson, Colleen Sostorics, Catherine Ward. Forwards: Meghan Agosta, Gillian Apps, Jennifer Botterill, Jayna Hefford (A), Haley Irwin, Rebecca Johnston, Gina Kingsbury, Caroline Ouellette (A), Cherie Piper, Marie-Philip Poulin, Sarah Vaillancourt, Hayley Wickenheiser (C).
Goaltenders: Sara Grahn, Kim Martin. Defence: Emilia Andersson, Gunilla Andersson, Jenni Asserholt (A), Emma Eliasson, Frida Nevalainen, Emma Nordin. Forwards: Tina Enström, Elin Holmlöv, Erika Holst (C), Isabelle Jordansson, Klara Myrén, Maria Rooth (A), Danijela Rundqvist, Frida Svedin Thunström, Katarina Timglas, Erica Udén Johansson, Pernilla Winberg, Cecilia Östberg.
(+ 1 tie)
|First IHLC Meeting (CAN vs. SWE)
CAN 4-0 SWE – 04/25/1987 – WWT – North York
|Previous IHLC Meeting (CAN vs. SWE)
CAN 4-0 SWE – 11/03/2009 – FNC – Vierumäki
|Last IHLC Game
CAN 10-1 SUI – 02/15/2010 – OG – Vancouver
|Next IHLC Game
CAN 5-0 FIN – 02/22/2010 – OG – Vancouver