VANCOUVER – Team USA gave China no chance. They scored early, and they scored often, beating China 12-1 in the end. Vice President Joe Biden was also in the attendance. He visited the Americans' dressing room after the game to wish the team good luck in the tournament.
Click here for the photo gallery of the game.
It was the Chinese New Year. New start, fresh beginnings. Maybe China would be able to upset the U.S. in the ninth game between the two nations in the Olympics and the World Championships. The US record before the 2010 Olympics was a perfect 8-0-0. Now, it’s 9-0-0, after a win in a game they dominated from the beginning to the end. Jenny Potter scored a hattrick and added two assists, Monique Lamoureux collected four assists.
Team USA got the start it desired with Angela Ruggiero leading the way. She got the puck around Chinese red line, accelerated into the offensive zone, then cut to the net and beat China’s goaltender Yao Shi with a wristshot through the five-hole at 2:50.
And then the Americans kept on scoring, every few minutes.
"It was just the flow of the game tonight. We need to clean up a lot of areas, although it’s a tough game to play when it goes like that," said Team USA captain Natalie Darwitz.
At 9:56, Julie Chu - whose father was born in Hong Kong - intercepted a Chinese pass at the offensive blueline. She carried the puck deep into the zone and sent a pass to the front of the net where Kelli Stack onetimed it in.
Five minutes later, there was another Chinese turnover, this time it was picked up by Monique Lamoureux. She delivered the puck to the slot where Jenny Potter was waiting. Potter made a nice deke to her right, and beat Shi on the blocker side to give Team USA a three-goal lead.
But they were far from done.
At 17:40, playing on a powerplay, Ruggiero sent the puck to the front of the net. It bounced and went behind the net but Kelli Stack was the first one to the puck. She quickly found Meghan Duggan at Shi’s doorstep where she had little trouble tipping the puck in for 4-0.
In the next shift, Shi made a good save on Hilary Knight’s shot, but Potter grabbed the rebound and slid the puck under Shi’s arm as the goaltender made a valiant attempt to stop the puck by diving after it, making it 5-0.
In the second period, Shi - who made 49 saves in the game - was just as busy.
"I'm tired, Team USA was so strong. But, I knew I'd get a lot of shots so I was mentally prepared for that," she said.
With just one minute into the second period, USA scored a powerplay goal when Potter deflected a shot from the top of the circle for 6-0.
The American’s seventh goal was a proof of the team’s quickness, and excellent skating when Gigi Marvin turned a defenceman away in the corner, got quickly closer to the net and found Lisa Chesson waiting at the far post. Chesson sent the puck to the top corner for 7-0.
With 21 seconds remaining in the period, Jocelyne Lamoureux then put on a show of her own. She carried the puck into the zone, moved the puck between her legs, and left the Chinese defenceman standing as she went around her. Lamoureux then finished the job with a great shot through Shi’s five-hole.
Meghan Duggan made it 9.-0 and then Molly Ensgrom’s wrist shot from the top of the circle beat Shi to make it a round 10-0 game with 9:17 remaining in the game.
Four minutes later, Natalie Darwitz found another hole to put the puck through when her slapshot from the right faceoff dot beat Shi high on the glove side, to make it 11-0.
"We don’t practice to play games like this, we train to go up and down the ice, defensive zone, neutral zone, and offensive zone, that’s hockey. It was special because it’s the Olympics but we want to be playing games that challenge us," said Darwitz.
"We still had to keep it going for us, and not develop bad habits. If you have a breakaway, you wanna score, but maybe not shoot through screens, but instead try to cycle the puck a little more," she added.
But China got their goal. With 2:21 remaining, Fengling Jim sent a backhander from the slot towards the American net, and the puck found its way to the back of the net, for 11-1.
"The one lesson we take away from this game is that you should fight hard and never give up," said Shi.
The game ended the same way it began, though: with Team USA scoring. Darwitz and Jinelle Zaugg-Siergiej tic-tac-toed the puck to Chu who tipped it in and made it 12-1.
Next up for Team USA is Russia on Tuesday. For China, their next challenge is Finland.