The sixth ever women’s Olympic tournament is set to kick off this Saturday, with an anticipated showdown between Canada and the United States set to highlight the Gold Medal Match for the fifth time.
There is little doubt about who the finalists will be once again, but the question is who will win. Canada comes into the Games as incumbent champions, having won four consecutive Gold Medals, three of them at the expense of the Americans, including a thrilling overtime win at the Sochi Games. The Americans, on the other hand, have won the last four World Championships and last three Four Nations Cups, and brings a ton of offensive firepower to PyeongChang, looking to win only their second Olympic Gold and first title in 20 years.
There should be an interesting fight over bronze, with usual suspects Sweden and Finland looking to jockey for position, while teams like Germany, a recent surprise at the 2017 World Championships, and Switzerland, the 2014 Bronze medallists, looking to regain momentum on the Olympic stage. The Russian squad, designated as the Olympic Athletes From Russia and decimated due to player bans over state-sponsored doping, will try to regain some lost momentum, but their depleted roster may do more harm than good. And while not much is expected from the newly-announced Unified Korean squad besides a feel-good political moment, the host nation will look to surprise and advance into the Quarterfinals in their first Olympics.
From the perspective of the IHLC, a few interesting facts related to this year’s Olympics:
– Canada enters the Olympics as incumbent champions for just the third time, and first since 2010
– Canada will open the tournament against the Olympic Athletes From Russia, who they are 4-0 all-time for the IHLC against, with a score differential of 37-3
– this marks the first Olympic Games held in South Korea, and mark the first IHLC matches in Asia since the 2008 World Championships in Harbin, China
– of the returning rosters for Canada and the United States, Canada has fourteen returning players and the Americans ten
This should certainly be one of the most interesting and entertaining tournaments to be played in years, perhaps ever at the Games, and whoever comes out on the other side will be making history in one way or another!
Photo Credit: Sochi 2014 – IIHF – HHOF – IOC