By Josh Ferguson
The American national team opened up Group B round robin action with a convincing 12-1 victory over China at UBC Thunderbird Arena on Sunday afternoon.
It didn’t take long for the favorites to open the scoring as Olympic veteran Angela Ruggerio strutted around the Chinese defensemen and beat goaltender Shi Yao just 2:50 into the opening frame.
The Americans’ speed forced the Chinese to take some bad penalties and the Group B juggernauts added four more goals to take a commanding 5-0 lead into the intermission.
The sustained pressure by the Americans proved to be too much for China’s national team as they added three goals in the second and four goals in the third to open their Olympic tournament with a victory. The United States outshot the Chinese 61-7 in the contest.
Former University of Minnesota Duluth star Jenny Potter was the top American scorer with three goals and five points. Monique Lamoureux chipped in four helpers and veteran Julie Chu added a goal and three points to round out the top scorers for the Americans.
The scoring was spread out across the board for the Americans as 14 of their 18 skaters collected at least a point and seven different Americans found the back of the net.
Molly Schaus got the start for the Americans and stopped all five shots she faced until she was pulled in favor of Brianne McLaughlin midway through the third period.
With a cold goalie for the Americans and a power play for the Chinese, Jin Fengling buried a backhander passed McLaughlin on what proved to be China’s seventh and final shot of the game. Sun Rui and Ma Rui picked up helpers on the lone goal for the Chinese.
Despite allowing 12 goals on 61 shots, Chinese backstop Shi Yao almost stole the show from the Americans with some dazzling saves that brought the crowd to its feet.
It wasn’t all smiles for the Americans, though, as speedy forward Erika Lawlor left the game midway through the second period after crashing into the end boards with Chinese defender Qi Xueting. Lawlor got up favoring her lower body and eventually retreated to the dressing room under her own power, but did not return.
The Americans play their second preliminary game Tuesday against Russia, while the Chinese prepare for Finland later that same evening.