28-1: The Canadian women’s hockey team annihilates the competition

Are lopsided games threatening the future of women’s hockey at the Olympics?


As she stepped onto the ice at UBC Thunderbird arena tonight, one Swiss player made the sign of the cross. No doubt, it was for luck—athletes are notoriously superstitious—but in the wake of Canada’s historic 18-0 slaughter of Slovakia yesterday, it took on a special significance.

In the end, Canada railroaded the Swiss: a 10-1 triumph which gives them a pass to the semi-finals, Feb 22, at Canada Hockey Place (first, they’ll play a final preliminary round game against Sweden, Feb. 17).

Over the past two days, both Canada, and Team USA—which, yesterday at Thunderbird arena, creamed China 12-0—have fielded hundreds of questions about mercy, class, and even whether women’s hockey should remain an Olympic sport.

Coach Mel Davidson came on strong after the game today, telling reporters that her team had been called both “classless,” and “disrespectful,” adding that it’s “definitely hard” on her players, who have heard about it in the media. “They care about the game, and what Canada and the world thinks about them,” she said.

Davidson says she routinely sees routs in lower-level men’s games without hearing any complaints. At the World Junior Hockey Championship in Saskatchewan over Christmas, for example, Canada beat Latvia 16-0. Team USA defeated the same team 12-1. In its first three games there, Canada outscored the opposition 30-2. “Seems like there’s a lot more patience on one side of the puck,” says Davidson.

Still, after the U.S.’s lopsided win over China, several U.S. players were asked whether women’s hockey should remain an Olympic sport at all. Team USA captain Natalie Darwitz called it “a delicate topic,” and said “there very well could be” a risk of losing women’s hockey in the Olympics. “It would be very unfortunate,” said Darwitz, a forward. “This is all we have. This is our NHL, this is our Stanley Cup playoffs—two weeks of us getting attention.”

“Just give us some time,” added U.S. veteran Angela Ruggiero. “You can’t expect whole nations to adopt a sport over night.” She noted the U.S. had just 5,000 registered women’s hockey players in 1990, and has 60,000 today. Other countries could see a similar leap if national federations continue to support the sport. (China, with more than 650 million women, has fewer than 500 registered female hockey players; Slovakia has fewer than 300.)

“Hopefully, there can be other countries that understand they have to put resources in their programs, said Canada’s Caroline Ouelette.

“We have a $250,000 budget—Canada has $3.5-million,” Swiss captain Kathrin Lehmann told Maclean’s after the game. Canada has “80,000 skaters—we have 800.”

Chinese coach Hanna Saintula, a Finn who communicates with his Chinese players in what he calls “basic hockey English,” said he figures it will take at least two years for China to compete against the U.S. and two-time gold-medalist, Canada, which, in Olympic play so far, has an aggregate score of 127-19.

So why do Canada and the U.S. keep running up the score? “The goal differential is secondary,” says Davidson. “It’s more about playing your best. We didn’t come here to put on a second-class show. We came to win five hockey games.”

“These games are prepping us to play a full 60 minutes,” added Canada’s Cherie Piper. “You can’t take these games for granted.”

Filed under:

28-1: The Canadian women’s hockey team annihilates the competition

  1. Sure it takes time to grow a sport. And patience is good. But why should we pay to watch it before it's blossomed? They get my money when it's not a joke to watch.

    • Do you watch World Juniors? DO you watch other sports where they are just learning? It takes time to get there and right now womens hockey is growing to be very big now. So give them a break and enjoy in the fact they are getting some of the spot light because I enjoy waitching it.

      • I agree, let's give it time, and while I do not enjoy it until it gets to Canada USA, sorry, let me put it this way, I can only enjoy the carnage for so long before I start rooting for the other team to score, but in the end, that's what this whole article is about isn't it? We're rooting for the growth of the sport until it get's to the level of mens hockey, where its whoever has the hottest goalie and the timeliest goal wins all. If we don't put the sport on International display, it never gets the attention needed to inspire young girls, who in other countries never get to see a team like Canada perform, set them to dreaming of being the next Hayley Wickenheiser for the Chinese team. We better enjoy it while we can. When 350 000 000 women set their mind to a task like the Chinese seem intent to do, we might just lose our hold on that supremacy. It's a ways off, but mark my words.

    • So…..nobody forced you to go…..would you be more happy if the Canadian and US team only put in half the effort because they felt sorry for the other team……if our women went over to China to play Ping Pong or proper name is table tennis our women would be in the same shoe the Chinese women are now in hockey…..they would clean the floor with our women,,,,but would we want to to put only half the effort ……anything less then a hundred percent at this world level of competition would be considered an insult.

    • I think it safe to say were the shoe on the other foot they would accomdate Canada in the same fashion. Not terribly mature but I think you pummel them while you can. Fun won't last for long. The numbers are not in our favor.

      The fact is like any other the Chinese are a proud people; letting up is likely only deeper insult. Call it the price of admission.

  2. the fact that someone would even suggest to take woman's hockey out of the Olympics is outrageous. these women both Canadian and American have showed that its not only the men that can play and give a show that's worth watching. i understand that the scores of the games are out there and maybe there should be a mercy rule but maybe the other countries need to spend more time with there woman's hockey program. even though the scores have been crazy i commend all of the women from the other countries for showing all of us that anything is possible. taking something away that these women love to do while either winning or losing would be a huge step back in time where women had to fight for rights . being a man and watching women come so far in sports would be a huge mistake …

  3. If people are upset by the blow outs than get rid of that stupid goals for and aganst rule which they use as a tie breaker.

    • I heard a guy on the radio suggest that the first tie-breaker simply be goals against, and then perhaps some sort of criteria involving fewest penalties, or penalty minutes.

      More or less, that seems like a good idea.

  4. how can they even suggest getting rid of women's olympic hockey? who cares that it's lopsided right now. even if other countries are getting creamed by Canada and the U.S., they are getting the opportunity to learn and play with the best. they'll get there eventually. you wouldn't see the same suggestion in men's hockey. it's insulting.

  5. by the way, in the 20's and 30's olympic men were winning games by scores in the 35-0 range. they didn't get rid of men's hockey did they?

  6. How can they even suggest such a thing? Are we getting rid of olympic hockey because it's lopsided or because it's NOT dominated by the european teams? Should we get rid of bobsled because it's not dominated by the jamaicans????

  7. The game was a joke i will admit, but in a tournament like this goals count as a tie breaker so it is beneficial to run up score as much as possible. Slovakia also cant complain about Canadian running up the score because in September 2008 Olympic qualifying game the Slovaks beat Bulgaria 82-0.

  8. How can we, as a people, tell our children that when they grow up they can be anything they want to be but take away what women have fought so hard to become? If you don't want to watch a high score hockey game, change the channel. If you take away the women's hockey in the Olympics the sport will never grow. Get over it people! Instead of complaining do something about it, donate to the programs or show your support! I would love to have the opportunity play against the best in the world, even if lost tremendously, it would still be a highlight in my life!

  9. Dreamer, I would just like to be able to play hockey at all but at 50 I'm too old. But I want the opportunity to see my grandaughter play and if they keep cutting down women's hockey, I might not get to see that.__All the other comments ( except Speedo) I agree with too.

  10. The comparisonw with the world juniors isn't a very good one. there are also hints that two team domination (and heavily towards one of those two) is hurting that event too.

    • There was a comment in the story from the Women's coach saying people don't get all fussed about blowouts in the mens game. She must not have been watching the coverage then. Both this year when Canada beat Latvia and last year when they beat Kazakhstan by huge margins, there was outcry that this was not the most sportsman thing to do.

      Because of the way the seeing goes in the World Jrs. there is no reason to run up the score. If you win all your Round Robin games, you get first place in your pool, and face the winner of a pre-determined crossover game.

      In the Olympics, your Round Robin performance does indeed factor into who you play in the second round.

  11. Yes, women's hockey is at risk. The IOC is dominated by the Europeans. Any sport where the European countries do not fare well is viewed with a jaundiced eye.

  12. It was disappointing that the article did not discuss the Swedish and Finnish teams which are not at the level of the Canadians and Americans but still competitive and capable of an upset in the Medal round in any given tournament.

  13. I don't understand what women's vs. men's hockey has to do with it. The point is, it's classless. Once the opponent is down you don't keep bludgeoning them. In my view, once you get to 10-0 the classy thing to do is play 4 on 5.

    • I disagree. Just toying with the puck and not trying to score is humiliating the other team. Being better or dominant is not classless. These are grown adults on both teams who know that 100% effort is required and should never have to apologize for winning or losing by whatever goal differential. If you are a severe underdog you are still brave for trying your best and maybe you even inspire future generation in your country to pursue the same sport and maybe win an olympic gold medal some day.

    • The "mercy" rule is applied to my daughter's mixed league which is not very competitive. The Olympics is not that league. If you are too ashamed of watching excellence on display simply turn the channel.

  14. lets be honest, it doesnt belong

  15. Beating someone 18-0 may be embarassing, but skating around for 60 minutes playing keep away is just insulting. No team wants to be played down to.

  16. I have no problem with them scoring at will when when there's goal differential involved, but enough with the celebrating your 4th goal of the game in a 15-0 lead. I hate to think I'm agreeing with Don Cherry, but put your head down and go back to the bench.

  17. I thought I may it clear that you still play your best, try to score, etc. You just do it with less players on the ice, thus making it a more even battle once you've already secured a win.

    • No rule changes are required for this purpose. As a spectator you can simply stop watching.

      • Unfortunately, me not watching won't improve the classiness of my country's teams.

  18. If a team is in the Olympics, then I have to agree with JAS above. It would be patronizing to play keep-away. There's also the problem that if you- let up on your game (as the players say) – you could lose your edge when you really need it.

    Maybe they should just call the game a win after 2 periods if the score is outrageous – like 15-0, but I doubt that rules will be changed to agree with me :)

  19. Have 2 Divisions – Premier and Development. Promote winner of development for the following olympics. 4 teams in each. Finals could be best of 3. Probably Canada v USA for a series would be fantastic. Americans would probably watch too, in contrast to the men's World Cup of Hockey which didn't even make USA news when they won it.

    This is crap watching teams win 18-0, and doesn't help the sport AT ALL. Makes everyone involved look bad. 20 years ago they said it was because the game was in development.

    As for the world juniors. Nobody cares except for Canada…..few people will admit that though. That's why it's here every other year.

  20. The only good thing about our money-fixated consumer culture is that some of the time it creates a meritocracy.

    Women's hockey is a joke. The disparity in skill level is too great. I'll still watch but only if it's free.

    It's crazy to charge huge dollars to watch people who are supposed to be elite athletes and haven't even mastered the fundamentals of their sport. $15 I'd pay. $150 not a chance.

  21. err US beat China 12 – 1 not 12 – 0….. surprised no one has pointed this out yet.

    More on the subject it seems that the concept of good sportsmanship has been forgotten somewhere here. Beating the opposition is one thing but disgracing the opposition with overly massive scores should be frowned upon. It's certainly not helping to encourage the sport to continue in any shape or form. Yes playing keep away for the full time should be avoided, if it's 6 – 0 though and it's clear that they probably won't even get 1 at all then maybe slowing the pace of your scoring might be in order? Yes it would involve some level of compassion and decency but 18 – 0 is just showing that Canada has no restraint. If they want women's hockey to exist they can't destroy the opposition in this way, the bludgeoned won't come back and then there really won't be any women's hockey and who does that help.
    I was at the US vs China match and I like to think the US team who saw that it had gone a little too far actually let themselves get 1 person down so China could have a chance to score. If they did I applaud them because it gave the Chinese girls the ability to at least save a little face. Small concessions in these early days of women's hockey as an Olympic sport will see that it continues to be an Olympic sport in future. Beating up the weaker teams now without restraint will only help to destroy any chance of keeping this as an Olympic event

    • Wrong! buy letting up on an opponent, no matter how weak they are, it’s a lack of respect. How is the weaker opponent supposed to ‘honestly’ judge their improvement over time if the stronger team isn’t playing them to the absolute highest possible ability every minute, every game? That makes a complete mockery of the sport and the entire meaning of the word competition. Maybe rethink your statement and views on this.

  22. this is the Olmpics to see who is the BEST in the WORLD and it happens to be the Candaian women hockey team DOSENT MATTER IF ITS 50-0 OR 1-0 a win is a win and one step closer to getting gold ….may the best team win

    like in the summer games theres some countries that are better then others and thats the whole point to see whos THE BEST IN THE WORLD…MUST BE BECAUSE ITS CANADA if it was any other countries nothing would be said

  23. Thursday's gold-medal game between the women's hockey teams of Canada and the USA has been in the minds of players for months.
    Well, actually years. ????? Article from NHL.com

    Just play your gold medal game… it's still a joke

  24. Ok so let’s get the cross country skier to hold up so the 4 or 5 place skier isn’t embarresed by losing by 10 minutes . Or maybe the african long distance runners should maybe hold back in thier races cause you know canadians are embarresed that our runners can’t compete. I think everyone gets my jist

  25. Most men are scared to say what they really feel. They want to avoid an arguement, and do not want to sleep on the couch.

Sign in to comment.