Pyeongchang marks the 20th anniversary of Women's Hockey at the Olympics. Team Canada's first game of the tournament is against the Athletes from Russia.
Dear diehard Canadian Women’s Hockey fans, set your alarm clocks early this weekend, because Pyeongchang is 14 hours ahead of the Eastern Time Zone, and Team Canada will be playing the Olympic Athletes from Russia this Sunday at 7:10 a.m. EST.
The women’s hockey tournament has eight teams, four each in Group A and B.
Group A, which is comprised of Canada, the United States, Finland, and the Olympic Athletes from Russia is deeper, so the top two in that group will have a bye in the semi-finals. The bottom two finishers in Group A will play the best two teams from Group B, which is made up of Sweden, Switzerland, Japan and Korea, in the quarter-finals.
Canada vs. Russia Odds and Betting Analysis
The women’s Olympic hockey tournament has essentially been a showdown between the US and Canada for the last two decades. In fact, after the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, IOC President Jacques Rogge made an official statement that women’s hockey in countries that were not Canada or the United States needed to improve in order for the Olympic program to continue to feature the sport.
Team Canada are heavily favored in this match-up against the Olympic Athletes of Russia, and are the second-favorite to win the gold medal.
The most familiar name in Women’s Hockey will be missing from the roster this year. A true pioneer in the sport, Hayley Wickenheiser has since hung up her skates after helping Canada win four gold medals and a silver during her career. Caroline Ouellette, who played on Team Canada since 2002, has also retired.
Returning is forward Marie-Philip Poulin, who leads the team with eight goals and twelve points during Olympic games. She scored those now-infamous gold-medal goals at each of the past two Olympic Winter Games. Poulin will have 14 players back with her from the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, as well as rookie forward Sarah Nurse, cousin of Darnell Nurse from the Oilers.
On defence, Team Canada boasts Brigette Lacquette from Mallard, Manitoba, who is the first First Nations woman to play Olympic hockey for Canada. An alumna of the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Lacquette now plays for the Calgary Inferno of the CWHL.
Olympic Athletes from Russia
Team Russia are currently ranked 4th in the world in women’s ice hockey, which is also the highest rank they’ve ever had. The team has won bronze at three different world tournaments. The 2001 Women’s World Ice Hockey Championships, the 2013 IIHF Women’s World Championship and the 2016 IIHF Women’s World Championship have all seen the Russian Women’s Hockey team on the podium.
This is the youngest team in the competition, with an average age of 22. In terms of experience, there are just six players who played at Sochi that are returning this year. Among them is 25-year-old Olga Sosina, who leads her team in international experience.
The doping scandal continues to plague the Russian athletes, and earlier this week International anti-doping officers interrupted the Russian women’s Olympic hockey team mid-practice with an unannounced inspection. When the doping scandal emerged, this team had six players barred by the IOC for doping violations and their sixth-place standing from Sochi stripped.
Canada vs. Russia Women’s Hockey Prediction