Women’s hockey: Target practice fun for Canada, but not much of a test

Hot goalie prevents Canada from scoring "10 or 12 goals," says Wickenheiser


It wasn’t pretty, and that’s just what Kevin Dineen wanted. “We’re trying to get the cute out of our game, and just get some pucks on net,” said the coach of the Canadian women’s hockey team, after his club laid a 5-0 pasting on Team Switzerland.

Is 70 pucks enough?

Okay, 69, according to the official scorers at the Shayba Arena in Sochi. But I had a good view of at least two that the off-ice officials missed, and it was hard to suppress a laugh when Dineen’s counterpart, René Kammerer said he felt it was “a good first game” of the tournament for his team, as well as for Canada.

Look, there’s no point in belabouring the question of when other countries are going to provide Canada and the U.S. with real competition in women’s hockey—not least because Team Finland did pretty well today against the United States, battling to a 3-1 loss against the tournament favorite. Canada plays the Finns on Monday.

But Kammerer’s other howler in the post-game newser—that his team had “no breakdowns” in its defensive coverage—leads you to wonder if some of the folks behind women’s hockey in other countries grasp what they’re seeing on the ice. When you let a team pummel your goaltender with 69 shots, you haven’t just had breakdowns. You’re whole game has been a breakdown.

This, of course, is where we all tip our hats to Swiss netminder Florence Schelling, who plays in Switzerland’s top amateur men’s league, and who made the score look as if her team actually had control of the puck from time to time.

As for Canada, you’ll be pleased to know that the vibe around a team that has lost four straight game to its U.S. rivals was hungry—and vaguely wild. It was best epitomized by the offhanded quotes from veteran Hayley Wickenheiser: “We’d have loved to have scored 10 or 12 goals just to get everybody feeling good. A goalie can steal a game for you, and you saw that today. I mean, 70 shots, five goals. That’s pretty good.”

Two days off, then, and on to the plucky Finns. Their goalie should probably get some rest.