It’s been an unfortunate start to the 2022 Winter Olympics for the U.S. women’s hockey team. While they beat a solid Finnish squad in their tournament opener by a score of 5-2, they lost star forward Brianna Decker for the remainder of the Olympics due to a lower-body injury.
The loss of Decker is a devastating blow for the Americans. Decker is widely regarded as one of the top women’s hockey players in the world and serves as a key veteran presence both on the ice and in the locker room. But in Saturday morning’s contest against the ROC — their first full game without Decker in the lineup — the U.S. didn’t miss a beat. The Americans took down the Russian athletes 5-0, and they did so pretty easily.
Savannah Harmon broke the ice at the 12:29 mark of the first period off a gorgeous feed from Hilary Knight on the power play. Knight, who’s now competing in her fourth straight Olympics, received the puck just outside the goal crease and drew the attention of the ROC penalty killers. Harmon then positioned herself on the doorstep and Knight delivered a perfect backhand feed to set her up for the layup goal. Doesn’t get much better than that.
After 20 minutes, the U.S. led the Russian athletes handily in shots on goal with a 19-2 advantage. And had it not been for the strong play of ROC goaltender Maria Sorokina, the score probably would’ve been much more lopsided.
The U.S. continued its strong play in the middle stanza, outshooting the Russian athletes 17-4 and doubling the lead to 2-0. Unsurprisingly, it was Knight who picked up the second U.S. tally of the morning with a perfect redirection off a Harmon point wrister.
The scoring parade really took off in the final period, though. Grace Zumwinkle joined the scoresheet with her first-ever Olympic goal. Dani Cameranesi delivered a perfect feed to Zumwinkle, who was stationed in the low slot without any ROC defender in position to make a play. Not long after, Jesse Compher scored her first goal as an Olympian as well. And Alex Carpenter, who was a terror against Finland, netted her third goal of the tournament to extend the U.S. lead to 5-0. The Americans weren’t about to let this one get more interesting than it needed to be.
The Americans may not have dominated the scoresheet the way Canada has to start the tournament, but they peppered the ROC with a whopping 62 shots on net while only allowing 12 on the day. U.S. netminder Nicole Hensley wasn’t tested very often, but she was forced to make a few timely saves and remained perfect throughout the game as she logged the 12-save shutout.
Even without a player as valuable as Decker, the U.S. clearly looks like a team more than capable of returning to the gold medal game.
The Americans will be right back at it with a tilt against the winless Switzerland squad Sunday morning at 8:10 a.m. ET. Their fourth game of the tournament, though, will be a big one. They’ll take on Canada Monday night at 11:10 p.m. ET, and you probably won’t want to miss it.