Team ROC 1 Team Canada 6 (0-2, 1-2, 0-2)
The start was delayed for an hour due to concerns over Covid protocols and when the action got underway, both teams were obliged to play in masks. After the second intermission, when the ROC test results confirmed that all the players involved in the game were negative, the Russian team and the game officials removed their masks. Canada chose to stay masked until the end.
Defender Anna Shibanova admitted that the situation was confusing for everyone. “We didn’t understand what was going on,” she said. “In the warm-up Canada came out without masks and we were in masks. It’s strange. We thought they would come onto the ice and they didn’t. As far as I know, due to the pandemic the organisers took the decision themselves.”
Head coach Evgeny Bobariko insisted that Team ROC always wanted to play the game, even though it might have been possible to claim a walkover victory when the Canadians didn’t come out for the scheduled start of the game.
“We were ready to play in any circumstances,” he said. “It was force-majeure. I’m sure the IIHF will comment on this. For us this was a very important game. We were ready to play, with masks or without.”
Once the game got underway, the free-scoring Canadians continued their habit of starting fast in Beijing. Sarah Nurse got the first on 2:09 and just 20 seconds later Sarah Fillier’s deflected shot doubled the lead. That was rough on starting goalie Darya Gredzen, the 17-year-old from Biryusa who did so well against the Americans when she entered that game midway through the third period. Today, the teenager performed creditably once again, stopping 30 of the 34 shots she faced before Maria Sorokina took her place midway through the game.
In the second period, Canada outshot ROC 23-3, adding two further goals. However, captain Anna Shokhina potted a breakaway effort late in the frame to claim the first ever Russian goal against Canada in Olympic women’s action.
It was never enough to spark a fightback, and two more Canadian markers in the third completed another comfortable win for the 2018 silver medallist. However, team ROC can take comfort from the fact that today’s 1-6 loss was less one-sided than the 11-1 and 12-1 blow-outs suffered by Finland and Switzerland against the same opposition.
And Bobariko was upbeat in his assessment of the performance. “Considering our current situation, if it wasn’t for those two goals we allowed at the start, we were pretty good, pretty solid,” he said. “We will analyze this game, watch the video, but I have no complaints about my players. They did a pretty solid job.”