Grab a bagel because it’s time for some can’t-miss women’s hockey at breakfast. The highly anticipated group stage showdown between USA and Finland is here. The U.S. is hungry to prove its superiority after having to settle for silver at the 2021 Worlds. Finland, on the other hand, is looking for a medal that isn’t bronze in nature in China. The Finns are a force to be reckoned with, even for Team USA.
Regardless of what the shot differential looks like after the first or second period, you can never rule Finland out. They have some of the best forwards and defenders in the world, and even without Noora Räty, their goaltending is also elite. For all of those reasons and more, this is must-watch hockey.
Oh, in case you missed it, (you probably did, because the game started at 3:40 a.m. ET) Japan and Sweden played earlier this morning. Time zones are wild, right?
How to Watch
- U.S. viewers: 8:10 a.m. ET (pre-game at 7:30 a.m.) on Peacock, NBCOlympics.com, USA Network
- Canadian viewers: 8:10 a.m. ET on CBC | Stream: CBC.ca
- World-Feed commentator: Aaron Murphy
What to Watch For
- Will Nieminen Get One In? — Petra Nieminen absolutely went off at the 2021 Worlds. She scored six goals — four of which were at evens — in 7 GP in Calgary to lead Finland in lighting the lamp. Her chemistry with Michelle Karvinen is fantastic, but it may have waned a bit with Karvinen playing her pro hockey in China and Switzerland. With that said, Nieminen is a key player to watch in this one. Look for her to do everything she can to get pucks on net at evens and on the power play.
- Who’s Starting? — So, who is Team USA’s starting goalie? Well, there’s no simple answer to that question. A better question might be who the coaching staff will tap on the shoulder for the big showdowns against Finland and Canada. So, we might learn something about who’s crease it is to lose for USA by seeing who starts the game between the pipes this morning. It’ll either be Nicole Hensley, Alex Cavallini, or Maddie Rooney — the hero of the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang.
- Hiirikoski on the Clock — Seriously, keep an eye on how often Finnish captain is on the ice in this game. Hiirikoski always plays a ton of minutes. It’s unbelievable.
- Debuts — There are a lot of first-time Olympians on Team USA (and Team Finland). It seems to be a tradition each year that a first-time Olympian takes the tournament by storm. Given the talent that we have on both squads here, don’t be surprised if a fresh-faced star makes some big waves in this high-profile game. I like Elisa Holopainen for Finland and Grace Zumwinkle for Team USA to do just that.
- Recent History — The Finns and Americans met twice at the 2021 Worlds and both times Team USA prevailed by a score of 3-0. Cumulatively, the Finns managed 24 shots in those two games. Team USA, on the other hand, averaged 36.0 SF/GP. Given how these games have historically played out, the power play will be huge for Finland, which is even more incentive for USA to stay out of the box.