Canada’s 12-1 rout of Switzerland an Olympic highlight — Shayna Goldman talks Top 50 Olympians — Must-click women’s hockey links

The IX: Hockey Friday with Anne Tokarski, February 4, 2022

Happy Hockey Friday! The Olympic tournament kicked off two nights ago with a lot of action and a lot of goals — particularly the type that are scored by players wearing the Canada maple leaf. With two days and six games in the books, we’ve got a whole host of mini recaps for you to peruse as you prepare to mess up your sleep schedule even more for the sake of the sport we all love.

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Canada 12 – 1 Switzerland (Feb. 2)

Game Grade: B

This game had pretty much everything you could ask for (unless you’re Swiss): thirteen goals between both teams (including four different Canadians with multi-goal games — Sarah Fillier, Natalie Spooner, Blayre Turnbull, and Laura Stacey), a handful of penalties, and one extremely over-worked goalie (this is an appreciation post for Andrea Brändli and her 58 saves).

The biggest reason that this game didn’t earn an A is because of the heartbreaking collision involving reigning Worlds MVP Mélodie Daoust and Sarah Forester in the first period. You never want to see a player injured, and Daoust didn’t finish the game.

Czechia 3 – 1 China (Feb. 2)

Game Grade: A

While it was admittedly not as high-scoring as its neighbor next door, the game between Czechia and China featured an outstanding performance by goaltender Tiya Chen, who made 33 saves on 36 shots. Unfortunately, Chen’s dominance on its own, even when combined with a goal by Mi Le was not enough to keep Team China afloat in their first game at the tournament.

Czechia’s goals came from Tereza Radová (with an apple from a name you might recognize — former Boston Pride forward Tereza Vanišová got the primary assist), Denisa Křížová, and Michaela Pejzlová.

Sweden 1 – 3 Japan (Feb. 3)

Game Grade: B+

Japan comes into the Olympics at the top of Group B after a really strong outing at the 2021 World Championship, and they proved they belonged with a more-than-satisfactory 3-1 win over Sweden. Both Emma Söderberg (Sweden) and Nana Fujimoto (Japan) had some tremendous saves throughout this game, which is really a testament to how a solid goaltender can make a difference.

This game might have gone very differently without Söderberg in net. The Chinese team might have the most chemistry out of any of the teams at the Olympics, what with the native and Chinese heritage players practicing and playing together as the KRS Vanke Rays in the Zhenskaya Hockey League (ZhHL or WHL) since September.

Finland 2 – 5 USA (Feb. 3)

Game Grade: C+

This game had a brutal opening, with alternate captain Brianna Decker going down early in the first period with a lower body injury after a collision with Finland’s Ronja Savolainen. Decker was stretchered off the ice, and Erica Ayala confirmed with USA Hockey representatives that her tournament was over.

Despite being lower-scoring than its Canadian counterpart, this game gets the extra “+” because of the bonus two minutes and twenty seconds of hockey we got to watch due to a review at the end of the game. Since there was no stoppage in play between the Finns’ waved-off goal and the end of the game, the play had to be reviewed after the game’s conclusion…and when the call was overturned, 2:20 was put back on the clock and players played on. Fun stuff!

To keep up with each team’s standings throughout the rest of the Olympic tournament, check out the IIHF’s Standings page — it gets updated shortly after every game, so you’ll be all set to see where your team stacks up against the competition and heading into the quarterfinals.

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This Week in Women’s Hockey

PHF and PA head Alex Sinatra to part ways (The Ice Garden)

Hanna Bunton on the realities of being a women’s hockey star (Sportsnet)

20 women making Black history in hockey (The Hockey Writers)

Division I Women’s Hockey: Weekend Recap, Jan. 31 (USCHO)

Top 25 women’s hockey players in the world right now (TSN)

New episode of Net Growth! (Net Growth Podcast)

Minnesota Whitecap Tina Kampa presented with the Breaking Barriers Award (Bemidji State Beavers)

American Olympian Brianna Decker out for the rest of the tournament (The Ice Garden)

Logan Bittle back as head coach of Robert Morris women’s hockey (RMU Colonials)

Five at the IX: Shayna Goldman

Shayna Goldman, statistician, giffer, and one of the most knowledgeable hockey minds I know, recently put together a list of the Top 50 Olympians for The Athletic in conjunction with Hailey Salvian and Alyssa Longmuir. The IX sat down with Goldman to talk about what went into the making of the list and how she’s preparing for the rigorous Olympic cycle.

Question: Talk to me a little bit about your work covering the U.S. Olympic women’s hockey team over at The Athletic. 

Goldman: So this is somewhat new to me – it’s the first time I’m covering Olympic hockey at all besides making a couple gifs or charts.  This year, the opportunity arose and I jumped on it because I’ve always wanted to contribute more to women’s hockey in a greater capacity than just making graphic (which I’m still doing, anyway.. just no gifs sadly). I’ve chipped in with some Team USA content – the ‘cheat sheet’ was inspired by what Sean Gentille did on the men’s side. I think the focus should be on the women regardless, and now without NHLers I think there’s an opportunity to pull more eyes to them since there’s less interest on the men’s side right now – so why not give fans who aren’t as familiar, or those who need a refresher, a quick glance around what to know. We had the Player Tiers of the Top 50 players at the games, some more newsy stories, too. 

Q: You recently published a list of the Top 50 Olympians, with help from Hailey Salvian and Alyssa Longmuir — how difficult was it for you to compile the base list of players, and what kind of thought process went into developing your player tiers and sorting the athletes?

Goldman: The top, I would say 25 or so, was a breeze to compile who and a general order. Once we got into the nitty gritty it was tougher. The bottom half was the greater challenge. I think the breakout category was the easiest, and added a nice pop to the end. So over video chats, we made a first pass at a Top-50 and then broke out to audit some in the women’s hockey sphere, plus do further research. Then days later, we re-grouped and adjusted. There were quite a few tweaks along the way. We wanted to compile insight, data (Alyssa’s data and Mike Murphy’s at Their Hockey Counts were fantastic to use), and our general thoughts on these players, while accounting for recency  

Q: You’ve long been a proponent of providing live coverage of women’s hockey on Twitter, with gifs and analysis that have extended beyond just the Olympics. When did you start doing that, and why do you think it’s so important to produce that kind of coverage?

Goldman: Mike Murphy was the one who inspired me to do it. I don’t remember if it was me asking him how I could contribute or him asking for charts and gifs. Either way, I’m glad because these women – at all levels, not just the Games – deserve to be covered. That’s how you grow the game, which at the end of the day is what we all want.

Q: It’s no secret that the time difference between the U.S. and Beijing is a little challenging, with nearly all of the Olympic women’s hockey games occurring between 11 PM and 10:30 AM ET. How have you been managing your sleep schedule through the first two days of the tournament, and do you have any tips for the rest of us?

Goldman: I feel like I had solid prep with the Australian Open just before this – although, I wish I had a little more time in between to recharge. I have absolutely no qualms staying up for games (or matches) that start at 11pm ET, 1am, and can swing 3am on most nights/mornings. It’s the 6am starts that are crushing. Even 8am is tough! I recommend a ton of coffee and tea. And match whatever you drink with water so you don’t feel awful after overloading on caffeine, hah.

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: @TheIceGarden, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer

Written by Anne Tokarski