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The U.S. women’s hockey team opens the Games against Finland. Again.

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For months, most discussions in regards to the Olympic girls’s hockey event have centered on the prospect of one other epic last between the USA and Canada. All of the whereas, one of many Individuals’ greatest gamers has had her thoughts on a distinct sport.

“I can’t look previous our first sport towards Finland,” Kendall Coyne Schofield, the USA captain, stated in an interview final month. “That’s our first objective. That’s our first job.”

The US, which captured the gold medal in South Korea in 2018, will open this yr’s Olympic event on Thursday towards Finland, which left Pyeongchang with the bronze.

As is the case with most of ladies’s hockey’s high nationwide groups, the squads are fairly conversant in each other: Finland compelled the USA to a shootout within the last on the 2019 world championship earlier than falling, and the groups are assembly of their Olympics opener for the third straight Video games. The Individuals have gained all eight of their earlier Olympic conferences, nonetheless, and so they have by no means misplaced an opener on the Video games.

The Individuals and the Finns are each anticipated to advance simply to the event’s medal spherical once more. However first, Thursday’s matchup on ice west of central Beijing will give each groups an early alternative to work via Olympic jitters and to take one another’s measure with pleasure, not medals, at stake. The sport is scheduled for 8:10 a.m. Jap time on Thursday.

Together with Schofield, who’s among the many world’s quickest skaters, the USA will arrive on the Wukesong Sports activities Middle with a roster that features Hilary Knight, who’s showing in her fourth Video games, and Maddie Rooney, the goalie who helped ship a shootout victory towards Canada within the 2018 gold medal sport.

Finland will convey loads of expertise, too. Ahead Michelle Karvinen shall be enjoying in her fourth Olympics, as will Jenni Hiirikoski, one of many sport’s most fearsome defenders and the recipient of essentially the most precious participant award on the 2019 world championship.

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