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Hockey at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games

Patrick Kane skating in 2014 Sochi Olympics, showing just the bottom half of his face in the photo

Hockey at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games

What you need to know about hockey at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games

Hockey at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games will be contested from Feb. 10-25, with medals awarded in two events.

Sochi in review

In 2014, the Canadian men were perfect in their repeat performance for Olympic hockey gold, winning all six games and allowing just three goals for the tournament in Sochi. In the gold medal game, NHL stars Johnathan Toews, Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz scored one goal apiece in the shutout victory against Sweden.

Sidney Crosby makes his final move on Sweden goalie Henrik Lundqvist to score in the gold medal game at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Sidney Crosby dekes before scoring on Sweden goalie Henrik Lundqvist to put Canada up 2-0 in the second period of the gold medal game at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Credit: 2014 NBCUniversal Media, LLC.

Canadian goalie Carey Price did his part by keeping 24 shots from the Swedes out of the net, while on the other side of the ice, Sweden’s goalie Henrik Lundqvist faced a barrage of 36 shots on goal.

It was their stifling team defense which allowed Canada to become the first men’s team in over 20 years to win back-to-back Olympic hockey gold medals, allowing just 129 shots on goal in Sochi.

Finland claimed the final spot on the Sochi medal podium, taking home bronze after a 5-0 thrashing of a United States team which became increasingly frustrated in a game where the Finns put up two goals early in the second period just 11 seconds apart.

Finland celebrates a goal by Juuso Hietanen in the third period on their way to defeating the U.S. 5-0 in the bronze medal game at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games.

Finland celebrates a goal by Juuso Hietanen in the third period on their way to defeating the U.S. 5-0 in the bronze medal game at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games. Credit: 2014 NBCUniversal Media, LLC.

Not to be outdone by their fellow countrymen, the Canadian women’s team, led by two goals by Marie-Philip Poulin, beat the U.S. 3-2 in Sochi in their own back-to-back Olympic gold-medal-winning performance.

It was déjà vu all over again for Poulin who also scored two goals in the gold medal game for Canada at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games, though this time was a bit more dramatic. Down 2-0 in the final period, Canada’s Brianne Jenner and Poulin scored a goal apiece in the final 3:26 to force overtime. In the deciding minutes, with a four-on-three power play, Canada worked the puck to Poulin once more to score the game-winner 8:10 into the overtime period.

Canada forward Marie-Philip Poulin shoots and scores a goal to win the gold medal game at the 2014 Sochi Olympics

Canada forward Marie-Philip Poulin (29) scores the winning goal in overtime against the U.S. in the gold medal game at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games Credit: Scott Rovak/USA TODAY Sports

In the bronze medal game, Switzerland got hot in the third period, shocking Sweden with four goals and cruised to a 4-3 win to claim the final podium spot. 

Competition format

When the puck drops in PyeongChang, twelve teams for the men and eight for the women will face off on the ice in hockey's marquee Olympic events. The men’s tournament consists of three groups of four teams playing a total of 18 round robin games (three per team). The elimination round features four qualification playoff games, four quarterfinal games, two semifinal games and one bronze medal game and one gold medal game. The qualification process for the men's tournament is complete.

Men's tournament 

Group A Group B Group C
 Canada  Russia   Finland 
 Czech Republic   Slovakia   Germany 
 South Korea  Slovenia   Norway 
 Switzerland   United States   Sweden 

The women’s tournament has two groups of four teams playing a preliminary round robin of 12 games (three per team), followed by two quarterfinal games, two semifinal games, four final classification games, one bronze medal game and one gold medal game.

Women's tournament

Group A Group B
 United States   Sweden 
 Canada   Switzerland 
 Finland   Japan 
 Russia   South Korea 

Length of Play and Overtime

Games consist of three 20-minute periods with two 15-minute intermissions. A five-minute sudden death overtime will be played if preliminary and qualification round games finish the third period in a tie. The sudden death time increases to ten minutes in the quarterfinals, semifinals and Bronze Medal Game, while a full 20-minute overtime period will be played in the Gold Medal Game if the score is tied at the end of regulation.

If any Olympic ice hockey game is still even at the end of sudden death overtime, a three-round shootout will be used to determine the winner. And if that doesn’t end it, shootout “extras” will be taken, where any skater can take the shot. Or in the case of Team USA’s T.J. Oshie in 2014 against Russia, a single skater can put his team on his back for as many shots as it takes to get the win. Oshie needed five.

Rink dimensions

Olympic ice hockey is played on a rink roughly 200 feet long by 98 feet wide. This is about ten feet wider than the rinks in the NHL.

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Hockey events will be held in two arenas built for the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games. Located in the Gangneung Coastal Cluster, Gangneung Hockey Centre and Kwandong Hockey Centre will be the place to see the world's best hockey stars clash on the ice.

Gangneung Hockey Centre

Gangneung Hockey Centre Credit: IOC/PyeongChang 2018

Kwandong Hockey Centre

Kwandong Hockey Centre Credit: IOC/PyeongChang 2018

Team building without the NHL

After months of speculation and players voicing their desires to play at another Olympics, the NHL released a statement on April 3, 2017 to tell the world it would not participate in the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. 

Olympic fatigue by NHL owners, the inability for the league to profit from its participation at the Olympics due to IOC marketing restrictions, and the unsavory NHL season shutdown were cited as reasons for the NHL's wavering Olympic support.

Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin has said he will go to the Olympics to play for Russia regardless of whether or not the NHL halts their season, but few other NHL players have taken such a stance. A United States team will most likely be built through a mix of European league professionals, college players, and possibly some of the young talent as seen at the 2017 World Junior Championships, where the United States beat Canada in a shootout for gold. Team Canada, the other Olympic squad most affected by the NHL's decision, has said they would also look at college rosters for prospects, as well as minor league stars in Europe and North America to fill out there roster, according to the AP. Ex-NHLers are also an option for both teams, some of which continue to play in leagues around the world.

The NHL officially released their 2017-18 season schedule, sans an Olympic break, on June 22, 2017. 

Teams to watch

The complexion of the men’s tournament took a drastic turn for PyeongChang with the NHL deciding to not break their season for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. Expect to see college players, European pros, minor league professionals and possibly national team junior players get the call to represent their countries in 2018 in PyeongChang.

Hockey Canada officially introduced Willie Desjardins as their men’s Olympic hockey team head coach on July 25, 2017. USA Hockey made their formal coaching announcement for the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics on August 4 when they introduced Tony Granato as the 19th Olympic men's hockey coach in history for the U.S.

Women's tournament
Rebecca Johnston, Forward
Marie-Philip Poulin, Forward
Natalie Spooner, Forward
Shannon Szabados, Goalie
Jennifer Wakefield, Forward

 United States
Brianna Decker, Forward
Amanda Kessel, Forward
Hilary Knight, Forward
Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson, Forward
Alex Rigsby, Goalie

Iya Gavrilova, Forward
Olga Sosina, Forward

Michelle Karvinen, Forward
Riikka Valila, Forward

What you need to know for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games

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