Strong First Period Leads U.S. to 8-0 Win Against Switzerland
by Scott Charles
Forward Jesse Compher celebrates her goal in the first period against Team Switzerland during a women's preliminary round match during the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on Feb. 6, 2022 in Beijing.
A five-goal opening period propelled the United States women’s hockey team to an 8-0 win against Switzerland on Sunday.
Hilary Knight, Jesse Compher and Kelly Pannek all scored twice, and the U.S. improved to 3-0-0-0 in the preliminary round of the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022. Amanda Kessel, Dani Cameranesi also scored and defensemen Megan Bozek, Cayla Barnes and Jincy Dunne each added two assists.
“Because every game is different, it provides us different looks and ability to build on different skill sets,” Knight told reporters. “We are innately a really fast, energetic team. A lot of speed, skill and physicality when we need to be. It’s been wonderful to see different players step up and take the stage.”
Alex Cavallini made 12 saves in her first Olympic start and recorded a second consecutive shutout for the United States. Nicole Hensley blanked the Russian Olympic Committee in a 5-0 win Saturday.
A four-goal barrage in the final six minutes of the first period gave the United States complete control of the game.
“We were buzzing on all cylinders, it was tough to play against Team USA today,” U.S. coach Joel Johnson said. “We generated a lot of offense, kept a lot of puck possession and more importantly created some really good scoring chances that were tough to defend.”
— Team USA (@TeamUSA) February 6, 2022
Compher extended the U.S. lead to 2-0 with a one-time blast. Hayley Scamurra found Compher in the slot and slid the puck over from the half wall to set up the play at 14:04 of the first.
Nine seconds later, Knight picked up her second goal of the game to stretch the American lead to three goals. The four-time Olympian intercepted a pass along the boards and fired a shot past the blocker of the Swiss goalie.
Pannek netted her first of the game and tournament at 16:15.
“We can adjust to the opponent that we are playing while staying true to the style we want to play,” Pannek said. “Ultimately, we are more focused on ourselves than who we are playing. Understanding that different teams provide different matchups and how we can be at our best to hopefully come away with a win. These first few games are really about playing our style and growing every single game.”
Kessel capped off a five-goal first period with a power-play goal. The three-time Olympian hammered a one-timer from a sharp angle below the circle.
— USA Hockey (@usahockey) February 6, 2022
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Cavallini’s best stop came midway through the second period when she denied a one-time opportunity from Switzerland forward Phoebe Stanz. The Swiss forced a neutral-zone turnover and had a two-on-one opportunity to set up its best scoring chance.
Compher and Pannek each registered their second goals of the game in the middle frame.
Knight opened the scoring with a power-play goal 5:40 into the first period. The alternate captain raced toward the net from the corner and buried her own rebound. Hannah Brandt and Megan Keller assisted on the play.
“You just have to take whatever opportunities that present themselves,” Knight said on USA Network following the game. “Obviously the puck doesn’t go in unless you shoot it. I’m really proud of our squad for being able to put it on net and being gritty in front.”
Cameranasi slipped a puck between the legs of the Swiss goaltender as she scored her first of the tournament at 17:29 of the third period. Pannek recorded the primary assist and picked up her third point of the game.
The United States will finish off the preliminary round and a stretch of four games in six days with a showdown against Team Canada Monday, February 7 at 11:10 p.m. ET.
Scott Charles is a sportswriter whose work has been featured in the Associated Press, various NBC platforms and Yahoo! Sports among other places. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org and you can follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.