Canada cruises to easy win over Switzerland in women’s hockey
At least the disc jockey had a sense of humour.Pounding out the old disco tune “Stayin’ Alive” just before the warm-up was exactly the right choice for Team Switzerland skating out to take on powerful Team Canada. “You know the story of David and Goliath?” Swiss coach Rene Kammerer had said following Friday’s practice. “We need to take the small stone and hit the right place.” Well, if “small stone” is euphemism for “puck,” Goliath had nothing to worry about.
The Canadians effortlessly defeated the Swiss here Saturday afternoon in a 5-0 opening game that featured a great deal of Canadian prowess and not quite enough Swiss pluck. “We got our game in order,” said Team Canada head coach Kevin Dineen. “We were trying to take the ‘cute’ out of our game a bit and just put pucks to the net.”The did indeed, outshooting the Swiss, by a lopsided 69-14. Though Team Switzerland goaltender Florence Schelling gave her best – and was at times most impressive – the players with smaller pads had a terrible time of getting their “small stones” anywhere near Canadian goaltender Charline Labonte, who could have spent most of the afternoon on her iPhone.
By the end of the opening period, the Canadians had outshot the Swiss 29-3, though not even a forensic accountant could show where two of those three Swiss shots had come from. The Canadians struck early, just as the Americans had hours earlier when they defeated Finland 3-1 at this same Shaiba Arena. Jocelyne Larocque opened the scoring at the 1:25 mark on a point shot that Schelling couldn’t stop. (The Americans had set a women’s Olympic record earlier in the day when Hilary Knight scored on a breakaway only 53 seconds into Team U.S.A.’s game with Finland.)
For Larocque, one of eight Olympic rookies on the Canadian team, it was a dream come true. “First shift, first shot,” she laughed. “It was a great way to start the game.” Defencewoman Tara Watchorn then scored on a rebound to put Canada ahead 2-0. Flag-bearer and assistant captain Hayley Wickenheiser, playing in her fifth straight Winter Games – she also played Olympic softball for Canada in Sydney 2000 Summer Games – scored a shorthanded goal that had to be seen to be believed.
It came on as perfect a drop pass as hockey has seen – unfortunately, the pass came from a Swiss player – and Wickenheiser merely skated in and ripped a hard wrist shot past Schelling. That faux pas was perhaps the worst in a game that saw numerous egregious errors committed by the youthful and inexperienced Swiss players. And yet head coach Kammerer told a post-game press conference, “We had no breakdowns.” Perhaps the original Goliath felt the same.
Canada moved to 4-0 on a nifty passing play that led to Marie-Philip Poulin tapping the puck into the empty side of the Swiss net. And then it was 5-0 after some sloppy play on both sides that led to a rather weak goal by Canadian forward Rebecca Johnston.
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