Today, February 10th, was the start of the biggest event in of the women’s hockey cycle: the winter Olympics. The 2018 Olympics are being held in PyeongChang and feature the best hockey in the world as eight teams—the US, Canada, Finland, Switzerland, Sweden, Japan, a united Korea, and athletes from Russia—face each other over the next eleven days for the chance to medal on the highest stage in the world. Today’s matches were the first Preliminary Round Group B games, which were held at the Kwandong Hockey Centre. Sweden v Japan took place at 1:40 AM CT and Switzerland v Japan occurred at 6:10 AM CT.
Sweden v Japan
For the first official hockey game of the 2018 Olympics Sweden took to the ice against Japan and won 2-1. Fanny Rask scored the first goal of the game at 2:21 of first period and was assisted by Sabina Kuller and Olivia Carlsson. Rui Ukita, assisted by Hanae Kubo, tied the game at 16:52 of the second period. Then Sara Hjalmarsson scored early in the third period, 1:53, to put Sweden back in the lead and there were no more goals. Erika Grahm assisted on the game-winning goal.
None of the penalties in the game affected the score and mostly came after Hjalmarsson’s goal. They were: Erica Uden Johansson for tripping at 2:28 of the first, Kubo for tripping at 5:49 of the second, Johanna Fallman for cross-checking at 4:58 of the third, Anna Borgqvist for an illegal hit at 8:06, and Annie Svedin for roughing at 19:12 of the third. Nana Fujimoto was in net for Japan and stopped 24 of 26 shots, while Sara Grahn tended goal for Sweden and stopped 30 of 31 shots.
Switzerland v Korea
A few hours later Switzerland took on a unified Team Korea. It was a rather lopsided affair, with Switzerland shutting Korea out 8-0 and outshooting them 52 to 8. Shin So Jung did her best for Korea between the pipes and performed admirably considering the constant attack she weathered, while Florence Schelling must have had almost a boring time at the opposite end of the ice as she completed her first shutout of the 2018 Olympics.
Alina Muller had to be the player of the game, as she took a cross-checking penalty at 4:26 of the first period and then went on to score the first four goals of the game. The first came at 10:23 of the first period, was shorthanded as Lara Stalder was in the penalty box for an illegal hit at 8:32, and Sara Benz assisted. Muller’s second came at 11:24 of the first with assists by Sara Benz and Stalder. Dominuque Ruegg took an interference penalty at 12:24, which didn’t result in any scoring. Then Muller completed her hat trick at 19:48 of the first period, this time assisted by Sara Benz and Christine Meier. Muller’s fourth goal came just 1:26 into second period and was unassisted.
Less than a minute later Phoebe Staenz scored for Switzerland at 2:21 of the second. Evelina Raselli and Lisa Ruedi assisted. The teams traded penalties, Choi Yujung for tripping at 10:27 and then Laura Benz, illegal hit, at 12:41. At 17:19 Staenz banged home her second goal of the game and Raselli again assisted.
Sabrina Zollinger took an illegal hit penalty at 2:10 of the third period, which expired harmlessly. However, Park Ye Eun’s high sticking penalty at 9:36 ended just six seconds later when Stalder scored at 9:42 of the third. Meier and Muller assisted. Stalder netted her second of the game at 11:48, this time assisted by Muller and Meier. Shannon Sigrist took a hooking penalty at 12:39 and then Kim Selin also went for hooking at 15:44, but neither team converted. With that Switzerland won 8-0 over Korea.
Tomorrow, February 11th, the Group A Preliminary Round games begin with Finland facing the US at 1:40 AM CT and then Canada playing the Olympic Athletes from Russia at 6:10 AM CT. Group B teams play again on February 12th when Japan plays Switzerland at 1:40 AM CT and then Sweden meets Korea at 6:10 AM CT.