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Women's Olympic Hockey Recap: Canada, USA, Japan, Czechs Win Opening Day

The women's action at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games kicked off with the two powerhouses taking wins, and Japan and the Czech Republic starting off strong, too.
Hannah Brandt

USA Wins Opener, But Lose Decker
The United States was dealt a big blow in its 5-2 victory over Finland due to an injury to Brianna Decker.

Decker required a stretcher to get off the ice after an awkward fall midway through the first period. Screams could be heard on the broadcast as she suffered from an apparent leg injury that took her out of the game. She collided with a Finnish player that wrapped her leg around Decker's left ankle, resulting in a bad fall.

Shortly after, the Americans got revenge. Amanda Kessel scored USA's first goal of the tournament, with Alex Carpenter scoring three minutes later on the following power play. Kendall Coyne Schofield scored a pair of goals a minute apart in the second to put the game far out of reach before Susanna Tapani gave the Finns something to cheer about with a goal of her own at 43:15. Tapani scored another one late in the game, but a second Alex Carpenter goal 10 minutes prior had already put the nail in the coffin. 

The Americans heavily dominated control of the game, outshooting the Finns 52-12. Anni Keisala made 47 saves in her Olympic debut, while Maddie Rooney stopped 13 at the other end for the United States.

Finland will get the day off before meeting up with Canada on Friday. The United States will play in the late time slot, facing off against Russia at 8:10 AM ET on Saturday.

Canada Demolishes Switzerland to Open Tournament
The Canadians are always expected to cruise to easy wins at the Olympics, but it doesn't get much easier than this. Canada scored three in the first period, five times in the second and four times in the third to rout Switzerland – the 2014 bronze medalists – 12-1.

Sarah Fillier was the story of the first, scoring the opening two goals of the game before assisting on Natalie Spooner's 3-0 marker. Spooner finished five points of her own, adding a power-play marker at 23:20. 

Blaire Turnbull scored twice and added two assists, Laura Stacey scored twice, Rebecca Johnston scored and posted three helpers and Claire Thompson had a goal and four assists in her Olympic debut.

The lone goal for the Swiss came on a 5-on-3 advantage late in the game. Laura Stalder, one of the nation's top forwards, squeaked it through Ann-Renee Desbiens, the lone mark against the Canadian defender in a 14-save effort. Canada fired a whopping 70 shots towards the Swiss net, with Andrea Brandli facing all of them.

Switzerland won't have much time off, again occupying the early time slot with a meeting against Russia at 11:10 PM ET on Thursday. Canada will get the day off before meeting with Finland, the defending bronze medalists.

Czech Republic Scores First-Ever Olympic Win

History was made in Beijing with the Czech Republic recording its first win in Olympic competition in just its first-ever start, a 3-1 win over the hosts from China.

Czech defender Tereza Radova opened the scoring at 10:38, with her shot beating Tiya Chen. The score would remain the same until Denisa Krizova doubled the advantage in the second period with what proved to be the game-winner.

China would fight back, though. At 39:02, Le Mi scored a power-play goal to give her team some life, but Michaela Pejzlova wouldn't have any of it and scored the clinched near the midway mark of the third period to finalize the win.

It'll be a quick turnaround for China, who'll meet with Denmark in the early game. The Czechs will get a bit of time off before a big matchup against Sweden on Feb. 5.

Japan Starts Hot With a Win Over Sweden
On the men's side, a win like this would be unheard of. On the women's side, Japan actually entered as the favorites, and they started off strong with a 3-1 win over Sweden.

Sweden was relegated to Division IA after the 2019 World Championship after Japan beat them 3-2 in that tournament. Japan currently sits sixth in the world rankings while Sweden sits ninth, the lowest the team has ever been after sitting in second in 2007.

The game was tight throughout the first period until Shiori Koike finally found an opening with just 47 seconds left. After sneaking in from the point, she was in front of the net all alone after Suzuka Taka won a puck battle from the corner to make it 1-0. 

Sweden didn't waste much time in the second tying it back up. Defenseman Maja Nylen-Persson did a good job of keeping the puck in the zone on a paly before feeding Felizia Wilkner-Zienkiewicz. Nylen-Persson got the puck back and the disk below Nana Fujimoto for the 1-1 goal, giving the Swedes some life. Japan was the better team after that point, with Akane Shiga setting up Rui Ukita on a breakaway for the 2-1 goal in the third period to settle the deal. Haruna Yoneyama scored an empty netter with a minute left to finish things off.

Japan will next see the ice against Denmark on Feb. 5, with Sweden looking to get back on track against the Czech Republic at the same time in the other rink.

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Three Stars

1. Claire Thompson, CAN: What a way to open your debut Olympics – a goal and four assists. That led all Canadian players.

2. Sarah Fillier, CAN: A three-point first period, highlighted by the first two Olympic goals of her career, was a great way to kick things off for the Canadian star.

3. Kendall Coyne Schofield, USA: Her pair of goals put USA way out ahead after Finland tried desperately to get back into the battle.

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