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Hockey at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games

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

Hockey at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games

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

Hockey at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic 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 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 Winter Olympic 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

NHL in PyeongChang?

Reportedly fearing other sport federations with high-profile professional athletes would come knocking for financial assistance, the IOC announced it would no longer cover the costs of travel and insurance for NHL players to attend the Olympic Games.

Responding to the news, the International Ice Hockey Federation stepped in to say they would find a way to cover the costs. Despite the bill being picked up, some NHL owners are still reportedly unenthusiastic about their players appearing at the Olympic Games. 

The lack of a marketable hockey audience in South Korea coupled with the unsavory NHL season shutdown have been cited as reasons for the NHL's wavering Olympic support. If the NHL decides to skip PyeongChang, there is a chance they would come back in four years for the 2022 Beijing Olympic Games, if the IOC would allow it.

Headlines were made when IOC President Thomas Bach met in New York City with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, IIHF President Rene Fasel and NHLPA Executive Director Don Fehr on February 3rd. The meeting was called a "courtesy visit" with no decisions being made on the 2018 Olympic Games, but a clear message was sent that the IOC wants the NHL in PyeongChang.

Will the NHL be in PyeongChang? What they're saying pulls together the latest quotes regarding NHL participation in the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Games

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"We all want to see the best players at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, and we know the players feel the same," Bach told reporters in New York. "Therefore, we hope even more that the international federation and the NHL will reach a solution to make the Olympic dreams of the players come true."

Over the NHL All-Star weekend in Los Angeles in late January 2017 there was little to be optimistic about after deputy commissioner Bill Daly was quoted saying, "If the status quo remains, I don't expect us to be in the Olympics." Also speaking out in L.A., Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews offered his take if the NHL doesn't go to the Olympics, "I just feel like we're misrepresenting our sport on a pretty huge scale and a pretty huge level."

The IIHF lifted their initial deadline for the NHL to rule on the Olympics, but details from the February meeting in New York City may point to a new need for a time limit to be set. A coordination commission meeting in South Korea in March came up when Fasel expressed a need for a decision.

Fasel pointed to logistical concerns when speaking with the media at the NHL offices, "We need to know about the accommodations. We need to know about the transportation. The sooner we know, the better we can prepare the conditions for the NHL players and the NHL."

That decision may not be revealed until June when the NHL has traditionally released their upcoming season schedule. 

Teams to watch

The complexion of the men’s tournament in PyeongChang could change dramatically if NHL players are not present, but we will cross our fingers and say these are the NHL stars and their counterparts in the women’s game you should look for in South Korea come February 10, 2018.

Men's tournament
Sidney Crosby, Forward
Brad Marchand, Forward
Connor McDavid, Forward
Carey Price, Goalie

 United States 
Patrick Kane, Forward
T.J. Oshie, Forward
Jack Eichel, Forward
Jonathan Quick, Goalie

Nicklas Backstrom, Forward
Henrik Sedin, Forward

Valtteri Filppula, Forward
Tuukka Rask, Goalie

Nikita Kucherov, Forward
Alex Ovechkin, Forward

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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