Just the Facts:
The Times: Way before you’re awake
The Place: “The Fan” (National Indoor Stadium), on the Olympic Green in Beijing, People’s Republic of China
The Stakes: Da Gold Medal, baby
Where to Watch: NBC, Peacock Streaming Service, Olympic Channel, USA Network, CNBC, Most streaming services/devices with a Live TV component will have a special channel for olympic coverage
Men’s Tournament Groups and Teams
- United States of America
- Olympic Athletes from Russia
Women’s Tournament Groups and Teams
- Olympic Athletes from Russia
- David Krejci, elder statesmen of HC Oloumuc and former Bruins Second Line Center, will proudly don Czech Red. As will former Bruins Vlad Sobotka and Jan Kovar!
- Peter Cehlarik has joined Slovakia. #CEHLEBUARY IS IN FULL EFFECT, BABY
- Steven Kampfer will join one of the youngest Team USAs in recent memory. Aaron Ness, who’s playing for the P-Bruins, will also join him!
- Former P-Bruin Jeremy Smith has been naturalized, and will play with Team China as goaltender!
- LAT! VIJ! A! Kaspars Daugavins, well known for the spin move he tried in the shootout, will join the Maroon and White!
- Joakim Nordstrom will don the Tre Kronor for Team Sweden!
- One time Bruin Landon Ferraro is a member of Team Canada!
- One time champion with the Boston Pride Tereza Vanisova will don Czech Red for the Women’s team!
- Also representing Czechia will be Pride and Northeastern alum Denisa Krisova.
- Going back to the early days of the PHF, back when they were merely the NWHL and even further back to the CWHL days, sees some of the Team USA veterans return in Brianna Decker, Hillary Knight, and Alex Carpenter.
- For China, Rachel Llanes of Blades, Pride and Husky lore will represent host China as a player and their strength and conditioning coach.
- The Swedes draw the Boston Prides’ best goalie in Lovisa Selander in as they attempt to prove they still belong at this level.
- On the men’s side for the first time in program history and active player will be heading to the Olympics for Northeastern when goalie Devon Levi represents Team Canada.
- For the NU women Alina Mueller will once again represent the Swiss.
- Also representing Switzerland out of Harvard is Keely Moy.
- Team Canada will draw Emerance Maschmeyer, formerly of Harvard and Marie-Phillipe Poulin of BU.
- Team USA takes Husky alumni Hayley Scamurra and their captain Kendall Coyne Schoefield.
Men’s Tournament Preview:
- Team USA without the NHL’s involvement is looking to go as youthful as humanly possible; bringing probably the youngest team they possibly could muster since 1994. Much of what makes them unique is going to be that youth and inexperience hitting the world stage...right when all the people that would care about that are asleep. Good timing on that, guys. The hope is that by hiring flameout ex-Rangers coach Dan Quinn, who had infinitely better success at the NCAA level, that they can find a dude who can ass these young guns to work hard and play these Olympians like their lives depended on it. Given how Quinn’s last tenure basically ended in him being a laughing stock in the biggest city on the east coast, I would recommend he do so quickly and intelligently.
- Team Canada is, as per usual, considered the favorite in an ice hockey tournament. I know you’re as shocked as I am. But maybe this time they won’t be as favored. Really, the only like “feel good” story is that Josh Ho-Sang, long controversial player for [REASONS OMITTED FOR LARGELY BEING BULLSHIT], gets to play for his country at the Olympic games despite a concussion scare. The rest is an even mix of veteran presence and young talent, which I’m sure will propel Canada to at minimum the Semifinals.
- Of all the teams at this Olympics, I can’t think of one who’s potential finish with NHL players and without them was altered harder than that of Germany, who have Tobias Rieder and Tom Kuhnhackl...but that’s about it. The best they have are a bunch of players who are a bit long in the tooth playing in either the domestic DEL or SHL. Still, they were the unheralded cinderella of the last Olympics, so maybe they’ll try to channel that energy towards something positive this year!
- China’s team sure has been eventful...and they haven’t even hit the ice yet as an official member of the tournament. It began with CIHA, China’s governing body for the sport, striking a bargain with the KHL’s Kunlun Red Star to help build the Chinese Hockey Team of Tomorrow™ back in 2015 right around their founding, then right around 2020 or 2021 or so CIHA and Kunlun came into bad blood with one another and CIHA itself got kicked out of the driver’s seat for preparations going so sideways so that the General Administration of Sports is now in charge instead, and the team was sent overseas to train instead, which didn’t help; there was word the team was so bad at one point they may not even get the chance to play, but were given the go ahead using the normal way underperforming teams get talent to the Olympics: Naturalizing the shit out of as many Canadians and Americans as will take a paycheck to play. Chase that bag, my guy. So now we come to next week, where the Chinese will take the ice in front of a live target on the biggest stage possible. They might surprise or they might bring us the first double digit men’s ice hockey loss for each game in decades.
- Look, there’s a bunch of old men that were former NHLers on Czechia...but I think we all know what we want here. David Krejci, play your heart out over in China, my guy. Win a medal, for us. We’re all rooting for you.
- Given that the Russian Federation cannot actually take any credit for this possible medaling, the Olympic Athletes from Russia will probably use this opportunity to shred any hope of Group B’s best coming out alive. They’re going to be rested thanks to the KHL taking a couple weeks off and they’ve packed this roster to the gills. If anyone is a Gold favorite beyond Canada, it’s them. I’m sure Canada and Americans of a certain age will react calmly and sagely to this news!
- The Swiss had an easier time picking their women’s team rather than their men’s due to the NHL pulling out, and as a result there are relatively few names you might recognize like Reto Berra. There’s some young guns in here for flavor, but it’s hard to say whether or not they’ll be able to match the full might of some of the teams that are favored.
- Denmark sure is here. Frans Nielsen and Mikkel Boedker are on that team. I for one hope they are at least passable.
- Finland is going all experience this year, with a bunch of veterans of various KHL and Finnish teams as well as some ex-NHLers like Marcus Granlund and Sami Vatanen, all of whom have significant international time on the National team and of course, veteran Olympians. Their goaltending in Säteri and Olkinoura are also well known for their strong international performances, so even without the NHLers, this group is formidable.
- The Frozen north of Sweden brings a team that seems unpleasant to play; starting with two famously defensive forwards in Joakim Nordstrom and Marcus Kruger, and, like Finland, a lot of guys with experience at the international level. Combine that with Sweden’s usual strong defensive play and it could make for a Group C meatgrinder.
- Slovakia might have a bunch of vets and of course the e’er beloved Peter Cehlarik, but this Olympics is all about the kids; Simon Nemec, Sam Knazko, and Juraj Slafkovsky. Knazko already got drafted to the Jackets, and this Nemec kid could end up a legitimate dark horse to go #1 overall, with Slafkovsky not too far behind him. If either of them end up having a good tournament, you could see a lot of shakeup in those mock draft boards that normally would’ve been shaken up by the World Juniors.
- Latvia may be kind of low on skill, but they are high in passion, and definitely high in guys designed to cause shock. Kristers Gudlevskis, the goalie who pitched an unreal 55 shot shutout in 2014 against Canada, will be returning, as will Ex-Bruin Kaspars Daugavins. You can also absolutely play “Spot the non-s name on Latvia” game this year thanks to a certain 6’4 giant in the Swedish league. Go on ahead and find him for yourself!
Women’s Tournament Preview:
- Team USA has been largely disappointing in the run up to the Olympics, with their regular series against Canada not going smoothly. The complete avoidance of current PHF players might come back to bite them as they’ve put themselves in complete reliance on a quite aged core, something that bit Canada in the past few cycles. Even with these issues, the Americans are HEAVY favorites to be playing for gold, especially with the weird stuff happening over in the Finnish camp.
- Team Canada is your odds-on favorites to once again win hockey gold on the women’s side, something they have done all but two times in modern olympic history. Marie-Philip Poulin, while unable to win a Beanpot, always finds a way when Olympic glory is on the line and it feels like she will be leading the Red and White to glory once again, as they were better than the US thought during their warm-up series.
- If someone can tell us what the hell is going on in Finland, we would be very grateful. Coming off of a HUGELY controversial no-goal call against the US preventing them from winning a World Championship, the Finns appear to have either panicked and have decided to just leave Noora Räty, arguably the best active women’s goalie in the world and without fail their best player, at home. They have plenty of talent otherwise, but much of that is aging quickly even if they seem immortal...And Räty could be a loss too great to overcome.
- Switzerland might seem unassuming, but it looks like they could be back after a darling run on the back of Florence Schelling in Vancouver ‘10. The last two cycles were a little disappointing for the Swiss as they were unable to stay at that level, but have come back to prominence on the back of so great talent up top with Lara Stalder and Northeastern’s Alina Mueller. Time will tell if they get their cinderella story, but they are definitely not ones to be trifled with.
- The Olympic Athletes from Russia are always something of an enigma. They’ve brought a yo-yo of a group ranging from 17-18 year olds to the veteran presence of Sasha Vafina, who’s represented the Red Machine in the last ten World Championships. They are definitely capable of Bronze!...But not really a threat to a team gunning for gold and silver quite yet. It will really depend on which version of the Red Machine shows up.
- Japan is a team on the rise, having been on the cusp of that next step over the last few cycles. Led by former NWHL/PHF goalie Nana Fujimoto and long time international vet Chiho Osawa, Japan is a team that will give anyone in the top group some trouble, and are looking to start some. They, along with our next team, are favorites to advance to the quarterfinals.
- Czechia was so close to getting to play for a medal last World championships, but ultimately fell a goal short against Finland. This year, they are a trendy pick out of the second group to make some noise. They will be in the running for a bronze medal chance for sure, but whether or not they can act on it remains to be seen.
- Sweden squeaked into the Olympics after they held off upstart France in the final qualification pool. The Swedes have fallen far from the days of winning Olympic silver in 2006. There has been lots of drama about their former coach and a dramatic funding cut, but they still have the bones of a team that will be pushing to move back up in the rankings.
- Denmark made the tournament by upsetting a German team that had been making wakes in the top division. The Danes will be playing in the the top division again after the IIHF decided to not have any relation from he last iteration of the World Championships.
- China is only here because they are the host. In the past China has had a decent team but they stopped investing and the team fell in the rankings pretty hard. Like the men, they naturalized a lot of North Americans in order to try and be competitive. They have been reliant on the Vanke Rays in the KHL to get some seasoning. They started this process in the CWHL with two teams: Vanke and Kunlun Red Star. It has since come down to one, and the same issues apply.