CANADA OPENS OLYMPICS WITH 5-0 WIN OVER SWITZERLAND
SOCHI, Russia – It was a total team effort as Canada's National Women's Team opened defense of its Olympic title with a convincing 5-0 win over Switzerland.
Jocelyne Larocque (Ste. Anne, Man./Calgary, CWHL), Tara Watchorn (Newcastle, Ont./Calgary, CWHL), Hayley Wickenheiser (Shaunavon, Sask./University of Calgary, CIS), Marie-Philip Poulin (Beauceville, Que./Boston University, HE) and Rebecca Johnston (Sudbury, Ont./Toronto, CWHL) each scored. Johnston added two assists.
Canada outshot Switzerland 69-14. Charline Labonté (Boisbriand, Que./Montreal, CWHL) picked up the win.
Less than 24 hours after walking in the Opening Ceremony, the team showed no signs of being tired, scoring a mere 85 seconds into the game. Natalie Spooner (Scarborough, Ont./Toronto, CWHL) powered her way around the Swiss net and sent the puck back to the point. Larocque’s shot found its way through traffic to the back of the net, giving the Olympic rookie a goal on her first shift.
Canada continued to dictate play and was rewarded five minutes later when Watchorn pounced on a Johnston rebound.
The Swiss came out more energized and organized to start the second. And they looked to build on that momentum on an early power play. But with the Swiss enjoying its first player-advantage, Wickenheiser intercepted a drop pass from the defenceman, skated in alone and the beat the goalie with a forehand to the glove side.
The line of Poulin, Johnston and Jayna Hefford (Kingston, Ont./Brampton, CWHL) constantly buzzed around the net in the period, and its persistent paid off when Poulin finished off a passing play from her linemates to make it 4-0 just past the 12-minute mark.
Just over three minutes later, Johnston redirected a centering pass from Poulin off the goalie’s stick and in.
Canada had several chances in the third, but a case of trying to make too many passes led to them not being able to convert.
Swiss goalie Florence Schelling was the busiest player on the ice all game and did her best to keep her team in it. She made a great save on a Mélodie Daoust (Valleyfield, Que./McGill University, CIS) one-timer in the second and stopped Meghan Agosta-Marciano (Ruthven, Ont./Montreal, CWHL) on a partial break in the third.
“She’s one of the toughest goalies I have played,” Poulin told CBC Sports after the game. “She’s amazing. I have a lot of respect for her.”
Labonté, for her part, was solid when called upon. She had a pair of great glove saves in the third and was on her toes when a Swiss centering pass nearly went in off Meaghan Mikkelson’s (St. Albert, Alta./Calgary, CWHL) skate.
“I think the first and the second (period) were a good start for us,” Poulin said. “The third was a bit of a struggle, but we got to build on first and second period for sure."