Better Know A Winter Olympics Sport: Women's Hockey, A Game Not Just For The Boys

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Better Know A Winter Olympicss Sport: Women's Hockey, A Game Not Just For The Boys

While men's ice hockey will take most of the spotlight during the Olympic Games, the women will also have their spot on center ice. This will be the fourth Winter Games that includes women's hockey, and so far the theme for the first three tournaments was the domination of Canada and the United States. Canada has won the last two Olympic gold medals and earned silver in 1998, while the US has one gold, one silver and a bronze. These two teams will not have a chance to face off against each other until the semifinals due to the fact that they are in separate groups. 

What It Is: The women's hockey tournament consists of two groups of four teams each that will play in the same round robin format as the men will. 

Group A: Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, Slovakia

Group B: United States, Finland, Russia, China

The top two teams in each group will advance to the semifinals with the winners of the group facing off against the second ranked team in the opposite group. The bottom two teams in each group will face off in the final classification games, with the third place team playing the fourth place team of the opposite group.

When It Is: The women's tournament starts on Day 2, Feb. 13, with Sweden and Switzerland. Group play will run through Feb. 18, with the playoffs starting on the 20th. The semifinals are Monday, Feb. 22, and the medal games  Thursday, Feb. 25.

Where It Is: Women's hockey is going to be mainly featured at UBC Thunderbird Arena. There will be one round robin game at Canada Hockey Place (Canada/Slovakia) and then the women don't return until the semifinals and the medal games.

Rules: While the rules don't change much from men's to women's hockey, there is one key difference. In the women's game, there are no body checks to take a player off the puck. Two players can make contact with each other as long as they are playing the puck, but for a player to try and play the player instead of the puck is prohibited. 

Who To Watch For: Team Canada is going to be the front runner for the gold medal in women's hockey. Team captain Hayley Wickenheiser is a legend in Canada and has been apart of every Canadian women's Olympic hockey team (she also competed for Canada in Softball in 2000). In three Olympic Games, Wickenheiser has 14 goals and 35 points in 16 games. 

Team USA is led by Natalie Darwitz, who has been apart of the past two US Olympic teams, and will serve as captain for the 2010 Olympics. Darwitz has 197 points in 231 career international games, including 14 points in 10 Olympic games. 

Team Sweden was a surprise team during the 2006 Olympics as they defeated the United States in the semifinals with a 3-2 shootout win. Only seven players from the 2006 roster are on this year's roster which means that this Swedish team is going to have a completely different attitude. 

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