In between, 22 teams from the men’s and women’s competition played a total of 58 games. Here are some of the most memorable moments from the 24th Olympiad.
3 February—Women's Tournament (China vs. Czechia)
The first game on the hockey schedule was a women’s matchup between China and Czechia. This was China’s first Olympic ice hockey game since 2010, and although they lost by a respectable 3-1 score, Le Mi (Hannah Miller) became the first goal scorer for the country. China finished 9th out of 10 in the women’s event but kept the scores down throughout while earning two wins. Later the men's ice hockey team played for the first time at the Olympics.
As soon as she played her first shift, Swiss forward Nicole Bullo played in her record-tying 5th Olympics. She later set a record for most games played at the Olympics, finishing with 29, two ahead of Finland’s Karoliina Rantamaki. That will be a very difficult number to beat.
Another first in this tournament occurred when Denmark played China, losing, 3-1. This was also Denmark’s first ever Olympic game (men or women), and Malene Frandsen scored that historic first goal. The Danes finished in 10th spot, but it was qualifying just to play in the Olympics that made their efforts worth it.
8 February—Women's Tournament (Canada vs. USA)
In their first game since the gold-medal final last August in Calgary, Canada and the United States played another hard-fought game. The Americans took a 2-1 lead midway through the second period, but Canada responded with three quick goals before the end of the period and skated to a 4-2 win. The last of those was scored by “Captain Clutch,” Marie-Philip Poulin, on a penalty shot.
The men’s tournament started six days after the women’s, and right off the bat things got exciting when the Danes beat Czechia, 2-1. It was Denmark’s first Olympic game ever. Markus Lauridsen and Frans Nielsen gave the Danes a 1st-period lead, and then goalie Sebastian Dahm took over, stopping 39 of 40 shots to preserve the momentous victory.
If the Czechia-ROC game wasn’t the most exciting game of the Olympics, it certainly was the wildest! ROC led 1-0 and 2-1. Czechia led, 4-2. ROC led, 5-4. Tomas Hyka tied the game midway through the third, and the game went to overtime. ROC incurred a penalty, and Libor Sulak gave Czechia the win at 4:29 on the ensuing power play.
12 February—Women's Tournament (Switzerland vs. ROC QF)
The Swiss and ROC had a bit of history going into this game. The last time they played, in the quarter-finals of the 2021 Women’s Worlds, the Swiss trailed 2-0 much of the game but rallied to tie the game in regulation and win it in OT on a Laura Zimmermann goal. In this game, the Swiss went ahead 1-0 and 2-1, only to have ROC rally to tie the score. But just when overtime seemed inevitable, Alina Muller scored the go-ahead goal with 2:37 remaining in the third period. She added an empty netter to seal an important and dramatic victory.
Any time the Finns and Swedes play, you know it’s going to be eventful. A scoreless opening period gave way to three unanswered goals from Tre Kronor in the second, and it looked like they would take the drama out of this game with a solid victory. But the Finns pressed and pressed, and scored three of their own in the third to send the game to a short fourth period. And wouldn’t you know it—Harri Pesonen scored to give the Finns a thrilling, and psychologically valuable, victory.
16 February—Men's Tournament (USA vs. Slovakia QF)
The quarter-finals matchup between the Americans and Slovaks decidedly favoured the U.S. They had a 3-0 record in the preliminary round and were a younger and more energetic team. And an early Slovak lead saw the U.S. come back and then take the lead. Their victory looked certain, until the dying minute. With goalie Patrik Rybar on the bench for a sixth skater, Marek Hrivik banged in a loose puck to tie the game. Ten minutes of 3-on-3 OT settled nothing, but in the shootout, the Slovaks were one shot better, thanks to Peter Cehlarik, who scored the only goal of the nine shots.
The gold-medal game featured Canada and the U.S.—of course. Canada jumped into a huge 3-0 lead thanks in large part to two goals from captain Marie-Philp Poulin, who became the first hockey player of either gender to score a goal in four gold-medal games. Incredibly, in those four games Canada had scored 10 goals. Poulin had 7 of those. Sarah Nurse had goal and assist in Canada’s 3-2 win, setting records for most points (18) and most assists (13) in a single Olympics.
The Slovakia-Sweden game for the bronze medal was tough on both teams after losses 24 hours earlier. But Slovakia had never won an Olympic medal and the players well knew what a win would mean for their country. They played a flawless game, and backed by Patrik Rybar’s play in goal, they won, 4-0, and made history.
Not to be outdone by Slovakia, the Finns faced ROC in the gold-medal game. And despite its long and wonderful history, Suomi had never won gold under the five rings. Things didn’t look any better after 20 minutes when Mikhail Grigorenko gave ROC the 1-0 lead. But Ville Pokka tied the game early in the second and Hannes Bjorninen gave the Finns a 2-1 lead just 31 seconds into the third. The Finns played stifling, Czech-dead-puck-era defence the rest of the way, allowing only three shots in the third en route to their first ever Olympic gold.