The women’s ice hockey competition at the Olympics has been pretty much a two-team race since it became an Olympic sport in 1998.
Canada and the United States have played for the gold medal five times in the previous six tournaments. The U.S. won the inaugural gold medal in 1998 and returned to the top of the podium in 2018. In between, Canada claimed gold in 2002, ’06, ’10 and ’14 beating the U.S. three times in the championship game.
Sweden crashed the party in 2006 when it won silver.
Canada and the United States both currently have -110 odds to win Olympic gold. Finland is distant – and we do mean distant – third at +1600.
The tournament starts with four games on Thursday. Three will be at Wukesong Sports Centre including the United States meeting up against Finland while the Canada-Switzerland will be played at the National Indoor Stadium in Beijing.
The U.S. and Canada will meet up on February 8. The quarterfinals are on February 11, the semifinals three days later with the gold-medal game on February 17.
Here is a look at the star-studded rosters of the tournament co-favorites for those who bet online.
Marie-Philip Poulin and Rebecca Johnston will be playing in their fourth Olympics. Poulin twice scored the game-winning goal in wins over the rival United States in the gold-medal game.
Melodie Daoust, the most valuable player in the 2021 World Championships, will be taking part in her third Olympics. Brianne Jenner and Natalie Spooner are other Olympic veterans who give Canada depth and finishing ability along with Sarah Nurse.
Jocelyne Larocque, a winner of eight World Championship gold medals, will be the leader on defense while Erin Ambrose is another player to keep an eye on.
Sarah Fillier, who had three goals and three assists in seven games in the IIHF World Championships last year, is among the first-time Olympians expected to play key roles for Canada.
Ann-Renee Desbiens, who had a 1.37 goals-against average in the 2021 World Championships, is one of three goalies who could see time for Canada.
Canada is listed by the Las Vegas odds as 5½-goal favorites in its opening game.
A total of 13 players who were part of the 2018 gold-medal winning United States team are back for another run at Olympic glory.
Leading the way will be forwards Hilary Knight and Kendall Coyle Schofield.
With familiar faces abound, here’s the roster that the United States will send to the #WinterOlympics to defend their women’s hockey gold. https://t.co/VReAMhP3BD
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) January 2, 2022
Knight will become the fourth U.S. women’s player to compete in four Olympics as she has a pair of silver medals in addition to her gold medal from four years ago.
Coyne Schofield is playing in her third Olympics. She has nine points in 10 Olympic games and 156 points in 155 career games with the U.S. national team.
Dani Cameranesi, who was tied for the team lead with five points at the 2018 Olympics, and Kelly Pannek are among the other key forwards returning for the U.S.
Megan Keller, Cayla Barnes, and Lee Stecklein give the United States a veteran presence on defense.
Nicole Hensley led the 2021 World Championships with a 1.00 goals-against average and is back for the U.S.
The United States is listed as a 2½-goal favorite according to the Olympic betting odds in the game against Finland.