COVID-19 reared its ugly head again in hockey, this time at the Olympics between Canada and the Russian Olympic Committee (Russia). In the lead-up to the game, Team Canada were still awaiting the results of COVID tests, as several had not come back in time for the game. The Russian team had dealt with an outbreak the previous week, so the Canadians asked for a 60 minute pause in order to sort out protocols and testing, which was approved.
That wasn’t all, as between the final rosters getting sent out and the start of the game, Canadian forward Emily Clark also received an inconclusive COVID test during pre-game warmups, forcing her to be pulled from the game while awaiting a second result. As a result, Canada only played with 11 forwards.
During the resulting hour and a half long delay, Team Canada asked the Russians if they could wear KN95 masks during the game in order to prevent potential spread. The Russians agreed and both teams wore KN95 masks under their helmets for the first two periods. That included the coaches, forwards, defenders, goalies, and referees. Not an ideal scenario in any world, but the players had the right mentality and got on with it. Canada actually practiced in masks while at Olympic camp in Calgary, so they prepared for this and knew it could happen due to their medical protocols. The Russian team did not play the third period in masks, after receiving the test information in the intermission.
"I didn't expect this but we have said all year that nothing fazes us and this didn't faze us. Our GM said we were wearing masks and we were like, 'OK, let's go win a game in masks.'" - @briannejenner #IceHockey https://t.co/zuLaju8lUh— Shireen Ahmed (@_shireenahmed_) February 7, 2022
Onto the actual game itself, Canada had six different scorers on their way to a 6-1 win over Russia, but it was once again the Sarahs Nurse and Fillier leading the way with two goals within the first three minutes of the game. Nurse scored her fourth goal in two games, following up her hat trick with another goal after getting promoted to the top line. Fillier scored her fifth goal in three games. Jamie Lee Rattray, Erin Ambrose, Rebecca Johnston, and captain Marie-Philip Poulin all added goals to close the game out.
We’ve had a lot of (garbage) talk about how Canada is “too good” because they run up the scores (and therefore the whole games should be cancelled???) the first halves of these games are still so competitive, the Swiss were really pushing Canada, and the Finns too until they ran out of steam. These games aren’t easy for Canada, especially early, and I think it shows the talent of Fillier especially, who’s scored all her goals in the first period, to be able to produce when the game result is still in the air.
Russia scored their first goal against Canada, marking an improvement in their program over the years despite the short roster due to protocols. This is what alternate captain Alexandra Vafina had to say after the game via CBC.
ROC scored its first-ever goal against Canada at the Olympics later in the period, capitalizing on a turnover to go on a two-on-one rush before Anna Shokhina slipped a shot past Maschmeyer on the stick side and just inside the post.
“Team Canada and the United States are the two best teams in the world. To score against them is the perfect gift from this game for us,” said Russian forward Alexandra Vafina, who set up Shokhina’s goal.
Emerance Maschmeyer made her Olympic debut in this game, stopping 11 of only 12 shots faced in the game — again, most of those shots were in the first period (7).
With Clark and Daoust out, the Canadians decided to play a shorter lineup, with only 11 forwards. Sarah Nurse took her spot on the top line after a hat trick against Team Finland. She had another great performance in this game. The defense remained the same, while 27-year-old Emerance Maschmeyer made her Olympic debut
Emily Clark* - Marie-Philip Poulin (C) - Brianne Jenner
Jamie-Lee Rattray - Sarah Fillier - Natalie Spooner
Sarah Nurse - Blayre Turnbull - Rebecca Johnston
Jill Saulnier - Emma Maltais - Laura Stacey
Jocelyne Larocque - Renata Fast
Claire Thompson - Erin Ambrose
Micah Zander-Hart - Ashton Bell
Ann Renee Desbiens
*pulled from the lineup during warmups due to an inconclusive test result
While it might’ve been unideal the Canadians were only playing with 11 forwards, the Russians only had 10 because three of their forwards are out in isolation due to COVID.
Oxana Bratisheva - Landysh - Falyakhova - Anna Shokhina (C)
Valeria Pavlova - Yekaterina Dobrodeyeva — Veronika Korzhakova
Polina Bolgareva - Alexandra Vafina - Polina Luchnikova
Nina Pirogova - Anna Sanina
Maria Pechnikova - Anna Shibanova
Yulia Smirnova - Yelena Provorova
Sarah Nurse again! Nurse immediately made an impact on the top line, burying a turnover off a forecheck from Marie-Philip Poulin, who didn’t get an assist on the play but deserved one. Brianne Jenner was right in front of the net for the screen to help things out as well.
SARAH NURSE What a beauty— CBC Olympics (@CBCOlympics) February 7, 2022
Canada takes a 1-0 lead early against ROC pic.twitter.com/VaNPnvhmyP
Sarah Fillier! While this wasn’t a big shot we’ve grown accustomed to seeing less than a week into this tournament, Fillier scored her fifth goal in her first three Olympic games. This one was an attempted shot-pass for defender Jocelyne Larocque, but the puck went off the skate of a Russian defender and through Daria Gredzen.
I mean, at this point it shouldn’t be a surprised that the Sarahs are going to score early and often whenever Team Canada hits the ice.
Jamie Lee Rattray right in front of the net again! On the power play, Sarah Nurse stole the puck as the Russians were trying to clear the zone, giving it to Rattray. She got the puck at the side of the slot and dangled her way all the up to the net with some quick moves before trying to get the puck across to Natalie Spooner who was also in front of the net. The puck ended up bouncing back to Rattray’s side where she buried it for the three-goal lead.
Jamie Lee Rattray— CBC Olympics (@CBCOlympics) February 7, 2022
The Canadian makes it 3-0 against ROC in the 2nd period pic.twitter.com/UVW4fz1wuH
Erin Ambrose got on the board as well with this long range shot through a screen right into the top corner. Johnston and Laura Stacey got the two assists.
Erin Ambrose makes it 4-0 for Canada against ROC pic.twitter.com/EhcvQUgFu0— CBC Olympics (@CBCOlympics) February 7, 2022
Russia’s captain Anna Shokhina broke the shutout for Maschmeyer with this breakaway goal from a turnover. Alexandra Vafina had the lone assist. I couldn’t find a video of the goal that wasn’t geoblocked to just the United States, but for our American readers, here is the goal.
Russia scored their first ever goal against Canada at the Olympics in the second period, but Canada put down two more to extend their lead. Gredzen was swapped for Maria Sorokina after the Ambrose goal. Probably as an attempt to wake up the team (it worked) but also to keep everyone from fatigue. Again, both teams had to play the whole game in masks and Russia is short on players. They also played the day before.
Rebecca Johnston put up another one in the third on the power play, burying the rebound from Fillier’s shot from the left wing. MPP got the second assist.
Canada doesn't waste any time— CBC Olympics (@CBCOlympics) February 7, 2022
Rebecca Johnston extends the Canadian lead to 5-1 pic.twitter.com/INtax4QTph
It took a few games, but Marie-Philip Poulin finally got her first goal of the tournament. She already had accumulated five assists in the first three games, but this was her first goal. She trails Scarborough’s own Natalie Spooner in tournament assists. Spoons has eight assists playing running mate with the breakout star Fillier.
Canada plays again tonight at 11 pm Toronto time vs the USA, the game that will decide first place in Group A. The rest of the preliminary games will be finalized by tomorrow morning and we’ll have out quarterfinal matchups.