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Olympic rookie Sarah Fillier stamps her name on Team Canada in opening win over Swiss

Mélodie Daoust left the game with a shoulder injury

Ice Hockey - Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Day -1
BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 03: Sarah Fillier #10 of Team Canada shoots the puck as Nicole Vallario #16 of Team Switzerland attempts to block the shot in the first period during the Women’s Ice Hockey Preliminary Round Group A match between Team Canada and Team Switzerland at National Indoor Stadium on February 03, 2022 in Beijing, China.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Canada’s #10 Sarah Fillier showed up at the Olympics and within a period showed her superstar skill with two goals and an assist as her second line immediately buried the Swiss in the opening game of Group A action. Fillier and linemate Natalie Spooner each scored two goals in Canada’s 12-1 victory over Switzerland, including all three to start the first period.

The 21-year-old Fillier was captain of Princeton in 2019 (at age 19), and top-10 in NCAA scoring behind established Swiss superstar Alina Müller and American Abby Roque. She made her World Championships debut last summer, scoring three goals and six points in seven games. After watching her second goal, something tells me she’s going to do a little bit better at these Olympics.

They weren’t alone in multi-goal tallies as Blayre Turnbull and Laura Stacey eat netted a pair as Canada steamrolled through the final 40 minutes. Rebecca Johnston, Erin Ambrose, Ashton Bell, and Claire Thompson all scored goals as well to pad Canada’s goal differential stats. You never know when those are needed.

Marie-Philip Poulin went goal-less in the tournament’s opening game, but she finished with an assist and four points in the win. Her scoring tough wasn’t needed as Fillier finished the game with 10 shots on goal (!), and Spooner and Thompson took home five points each. Johnston had four points to start her fourth Olympics, which I thought was a cool stat.

Canada finished the night with 12 goals on 70 shots, with Ann-Renée Desbiens giving up only one goal on 15 shots to Lara Stalder. Andrea Brändli did the best she could for the Swiss in net, and she really made some remarkable saves, but Canada was so overwhelming not even Florence Schelling could’ve done much.

The one low moment of the night was the injury to Mélodie Daoust, the second line centre on the team. She got squashed hard into the boards by Sarah Forster in the second period and left the game clutching her shoulder. Canada has a Taxi Squad with them for injuries and COVID protocols, so they might have to add someone to the 23-player roster. Hopefully Daoust is okay, but initial reactions are not good.

The Lineups

First Period

MPP got the first chance right off the opening faceoff by bursting around the outside and trying to be the new Swiss starting goalie, Andrea Brändli, who took over from Swiss hockey legend Florence Schelling.

1-0

The “Fill-Da-Spoon” line opened the scoring with 21-year-old Sarah Fillier batting a rebound home from the side of the net after a shot from Natalie Spooner about a minute into the game. The Swiss head coach challenged the goal for a high stick, because Fillier was kind of close to the bar, but the call was eventually given to Canada. This was Fillier’s first career Olympic goal in her first tournament.

Spooner was centering a puck from the corner off a somewhat broken rush, but as the puck came towards the slot, one of the Canadian forwards (either Fillier or Daoust, or maybe someone else) and a Swiss defender bowled hard into Brändli. The net was a maze of bodies and limbs as the puck was thrown out of the zone.

2-0

Sarah Fillier once again! She doubled the lead with a wicked shot after circling down from the top of the circle that panged the top corner. Her second goal in only her first Olympics. Definitely first of many. FILLIER-UN-BUT!!!!!!

A scary moment as the Swiss were on the power play (Blayre Turnbull was in the box for slashing during a backcheck) as Emily Clark skated full speed into Brändli as she was trying to go around the net. Brändli was out to play the puck, and I think Clark thought she was going to go the long way around the net. Unfortunately, she came back the short way and Clark had nowhere to go. Clark tried to veer left and run into the net (which would’ve been safer), but she caught Brändli hard. The Swiss goalie stayed in the game, after a very eventful first 10 minutes.

3-0

Spoooooo!!!!! The second line with their third goal of the period with Spooner picking up the garbage in front of the net. Fillier was a creator around the net on that shift, making an initial wrap-a-round chance from behind the net, and then finding a seam through the goalie and the Swiss defenders who were staring at her behind the net after a shot. Spooner was left open and buried the centering pass.

Canada got their first power play late in the first period with Keely Moy in the box. Brändli then took a penalty herself by tripping Spooner up in front of the net. Spooner was a merchant around the blue paint, causing all kinds of headaches.

I like Canada’s power play, which is anchored by Erin Ambrose at the point (but more to the left side) and Poulin clapping bombs anywhere from the top of the zone to the right wing. Fillier is on the opposite wing with Spooner in front of the net and Rebecca Johnston mostly in the bumper, but moved around a lot.

After One

You can tell the Americans are nervous. Ohhhh yes.

Second Period

Fillier started the second period with the same intensity as she ended the first period with, driving hard to the net on the first shift of the frame and nearly knocking home the puck for a hat trick.

Micah Zandee-Hart saved a goal from Alina Muller defending front of the net after Muller got her own rebound in the chaos and nearly flipped the backhand over Desbiens. Zandee-Hart hooked her at the last minute.

4-0

Johnston makes it four in her fourth Olympics! After recovering from an achilles injury all offseason, Johnston scored her seventh Olympic goal in the first game of the tournament. Turnbull was looking for an opening from behind the net, and found Claire Thompson in the slot. Her shot was on target, and no one was stopping Johnston in front of the net to smash home the rebound on her second try. She made a really nice turn to face the net as she got on her strong right side.

5-0

Laura Stacey got a fortunate one as scored from behind the net after beating out an icing. She threw the puck towards the slot to no one in particular, but it bounced off Brändli’s far side pad and in. You have to feel for the goalie, but the Canadians certainly didn’t temper their celebrations. The Swiss got a little more pissed off after this goal and went back to some physical hockey.

Credit to Brändli, who didn’t wither after giving up the embarrassing goal. She turned up her game and stopped the Canadians on three occasions with great stops. She had her positioning and movement down pat.

Daoust was laid out by Sarah Forster along the boards with a body check. Forster was not catching Daoust, and instead of trying to reach with the stick or catch up to the player, she went hard on the body, not trying to challenge for the puck. Daoust went straight to the locker room, causing a huge blow to Canada’s effort. Not only because she’s the pivot on the exploding second line, but she’s a huge member of the special teams.

6-0

Spoons scored on the ensuing power play (illegal body check) from nowhere else but her office for her second. You are allowed to body players when fighting for the puck, but you can’t just run into them without trying to win the puck, that was the cause of the power play. Sarah Nurse took the point shot that Spooner buried in front of the net.

7-0

Defender Claire Thompson found Blayre Turnbull with a perfect pass to the far side of the blue paint as the Swiss defenders got caught drifting too high up in the zone.

8-0

Laura Stacey with her second from a great shot to the top corner with a crowd in front of the net. Canada’s fourth line was cycling in the offensive zone and it was eventually Stacey who was half a step in front of her defender to get off a shot.

Desbiens closed out the period with a cool windmill pad save, as one does. She only had to face 10 shots over the first two periods, so I guess she was just trying to keep things interesting for herself.

After Two

I almost couldn’t keep track of all the goals, but I think the biggest feeling coming out of the period is what is the status of Daoust. Hopefully this article will have been updated with news, but the immediate reaction didn’t look good.

This isn’t helping Dr. Grewal! Okay, it is helping a bit, but I don’t like it!

Third Period

9-0

Jamie Lee Rattray with a sick stop on a dime and centering pass to set up Blayre Turnbull for her second goal of the night.

I’ve lost count of how many Canadians have fallen into Brändli, but Ambrose was definitely one of them in the third period as she came down from the point looking for a rebound Alina Muller gave Ambrose a shove and a piece of her mind. Ambrose got called for goalie interference on the play.

9-1

Switzerland got on the board with Lara Stalder getting a good deflection on her centering pass to Muller who was on the far side. The Canadians had sticks in the lane, but one of them deflected the puck towards Desbiens and it slipped through her five hole. The Swiss were pretty happy to break the shutout on the power play.

Note: this video seems to be geoblocked because Olympics are like that

10-1

I couldn’t find the Swiss winger who barely waved Turnbull past as she drove to the net from the point without any resistance. Her shot was miraculously stopped by Brändli, but the rebound was scored by rookie defender Ashton Bell.

11-1

Thompson made it 11 for Canada with a shot from the side of the net after a slick dangle from Ambrose. Just dominance from the Canadians.

12-1

Okay okay, the game is over, but Canada wanted to put a cool dozen on the ice as Ambrose got her goal with two seconds left in the game. Was that goal necessary? Absolutely, yes.

Update on Daoust:

“She is resting and continues to be examined by our medical team. No new details as to his status for the next match.”

Other Action

While that game was going on, Czechia beat China 3-1 to open Group B play. Sweden lost a game to Japan 3-1 that may heavily impact their places in the quarterfinals. Just prior to the tournament starting, Sweden lost their starting goalie, Sara Grahn to a positive Covid test. That changes their prospects immeasurably.

Next up: Finland vs USA this morning at 8 am and Russia vs Switzerland tonight.