International Ice Hockey Federation

Is the impossible possible?

Is the impossible possible?

Canada's women colossal favourites vs. the Swiss

Published 17.02.2014 15:14 GMT+4 | Author Andrew Podnieks
Is the impossible possible?
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 8: Canada's Natalie Spooner #24, Meghan Agosta-Marciano #2 and Haley Wickenheiser #22 celebrate after a first period goal against Switzerland during women's preliminary round action at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/HHOF-IIHF Images)
They play the games for a reason, but it would take a miracle of Biblical proportions for the Swiss women to beat Canada in the semi-finals today.

Nevertheless, the puck will be faced off and the teams will skate for 60 minutes or more, and anything can happen.

What does Switzerland have to do to achieve their “Wunder von Sotschi”? What does Canada need to do to get to its fifth straight Olympic gold-medal game?

The first factor for Switzerland has already been taken care of, and that is the sheer mass of goals that Canada has previously put up on the board with the greatest of ease. Consider that in the first four Olympics, Canada scored 29, 35, 46, and finally 48 goals in five games (six in 1998), an average of nearly TEN per game in Turin and Vancouver!

This year, Canada has managed only eleven goals in three games, an average of less than four. So, the team isn’t as powerful, and other teams have improved in goal and team defence to the point where they can compete and produce at the very least a respectable score.

Second, the Swiss lost to Canada only a few days ago by the score of 5-0. The game wasn’t incredibly close or tense, but the Swiss can take three positives from that result: (1) it was the closest score ever between the teams; (2) the Swiss held Canada to a 0-0 score in the third period for the first time; (3) goalie Florence Schelling played perhaps one of the finest game of her life.

The Swiss are coming off one of the biggest wins of their history, a 2-0 win over Russia in the quarter-finals to earn the right to play Canada again. The win was special because it was played before an entirely pro-Russian crowd, and Schelling played perhaps an even better game than the one against Canada. And, the team scored twice and played great team defence.

Continue reading

To beat Canada, the hockey stars are going to have to align for the Swiss. Schelling is 24 years old, in her third Olympics, and at the height of her powers. She must be dominant, even intimidating, but she can’t do it alone. If she faces a barrage of shots while Canada’s goaltender remains idle, the goals will come eventually.

The Swiss can’t allow an early goal. They must play the first ten minutes as though their careers depended on it. If they can somehow sneak a goal in on a lucky shot, a power play, a Canadian mistake, maybe they can protect the lead. But again, if the game is played in the Swiss end most of the night, they’re toast. It’s a long shot, but, hey, even Secretariat didn’t win every race.

Canada, meanwhile, has to be as confident as it’s ever been. Despite the lower scores and despite the changes from within (new coach, replaced captain), the Canadians posted a truly impressive 3-2 win over the Americans a few days ago to give them plenty of forward momentum.

Add to that the simple math: Canada has played the Swiss seven times in Olympics and Women’s Worlds and has won every game by a cumulative score of 65-1. Yes, the last game was the closest, but 5-0 is nothing to worry about.

Furthermore, preparation is a word so ingrained in the Canadian subconscious it almost goes without saying this team will be ready. Miracle? You better believe coach Kevin Dineen and the players have already considered this and dealt with it. They will leave nothing to chance and they will be ready for any surprise.

Canada’s defence and offence are simply far superior to the Swiss, and that will win the day. Losing is not an option.


Back to Overview