Russians open Olympic hockey tournament with another win

Feb 8, 2022, 4:30 PM | Updated: Feb 9, 2022, 8:10 am
Denmark goalkeeper Sebastian Dahm (32) reaches for a shot that bounces off the post during a prelim...

Denmark goalkeeper Sebastian Dahm (32) reaches for a shot that bounces off the post during a preliminary round men's hockey game against Czech Republic at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022, in Beijing. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

(AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

BEIJING (AP) — Whatever you call them this time around, the Russians are again going to be hard to beat in men’s hockey at the Beijing Olympics.

The team is playing as ROC at the 2022 Games, short for Russian Olympic Committee. Four years ago at the Pyeongchang Games, they won the gold medal playing as Olympic Athletes from Russia.

The name keeps changing because of past doping violations. The results on the ice seem to stay the same.

On Wednesday, the Russians played the opening game of an Olympic tournament being held on NHL-sized ice but without NHL players. Unspectacular as it may have been, it was a victory nonetheless — 1-0 over Switzerland.

“Everyone was excited to play. We were a bit rusty,” said Mikhail Grigorenko, who skated in 249 NHL regular-season games. “We’re going to be better around the net, and we’re going to try to score more goals in each game.”

The Swiss outshot the Russians 33-30, but they couldn’t get any of those past Russian goalie Ivan Fedotov.

Coming into the Olympics, the Russian team’s only scheduled tuneup game was canceled after suspected coronavirus cases for Latvia. That could account for the sluggish start against the Swiss.

The next group game against Olympic newcomer Denmark on Friday will give them another opportunity to get up to speed. But the Danes showed they’re no pushover by upsetting David Krejci and the Czech Republic 2-1 in the late game thanks to 39 saves by Sebastian Dahm and goals from Markus Lauridsen and Frans Nielsen.

“It means everything,” forward Mikkel Aagaard said. “All the boys have been working so hard towards this.”

The Russians got a fortunate bounce to beat Switzerland. Former Edmonton Oilers forward Anton Slepyshev scored after his shot pinballed off Swiss goaltender Reto Berra’s right pad and Enzo Corvi’s left leg and into the the net with 2.7 seconds left in the first period.

“Going forward, we’re going to try to play hockey that pleases the fans and that pleases us, too,” said Russian team coach Alexei Zhamnov, a gold medalist in 1992 and gold-medal winning assistant coach in 2018.

“I think we’ve got enough creativity. I think that with each game we’re going to improve and the creativity will appear.”

Discipline was an issue for the Russians, however. Slepyshev earned himself four penalty minutes with a headbutt, allowing the Swiss to build some momentum. But Romain Loeffel then ended the power play after getting a two-minute penalty for slashing.

“Russia is a strong team and we kept them to one goal, which is good,” said Switzerland coach Patrick Fischer, a former Arizona Coyotes player, “but obviously we’ve got to start scoring.”

Tricky opening games at the Olympics are nothing new for the Russians, who started in 2018 with a 3-2 loss to Slovakia. They then scored 18 goals in the following three games to start a winning run which culminated in beating Germany 3-2 in overtime for the gold medal.

That opening loss in 2018 was the only game of the tournament for forward Vadim Shipachyov, who was a healthy scratch for the remaining games. That won’t happen this time around because he’s now the captain and carried the ROC flag in Friday’s opening ceremony.

Zhamnov defended Shipachyov and the rest of the squad after a quiet game for the captain, who has 24 goals and 43 assists to lead the Kontinental Hockey League in scoring this season with 67 points.

“Each of the guys, each of our players will improve and this game here was just necessary for all of us and the coaching staff, too,” Zhamnov said. “It’s hard without game practice.”


AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno contributed.


More AP Winter Olympics: and

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

American tourist dies in Rio after being hit by stray bullet

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — An American tourist died in Rio de Janeiro on Friday, three days after he was shot during a confrontation between local drug dealers and vigilantes. The U.S Consulate in Rio and hospital Samaritano Botafogo confirmed Trey Barber’s death in separate statements. The consulate did not offer more details due to […]
1 day ago
FILE - Former NFL player Ken Jenkins exits the building after delivering tens of thousands of petit...
Associated Press

More Black NFL retirees win dementia cases in rescored tests

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Two years after a pair of former players sued the NFL over the treatment of Black retirees in the league’s $1 billion concussion settlement, hundreds of men whose medical tests were rescored to eliminate race bias now qualify for awards. The newly approved payouts, announced in a report Friday, are a victory […]
1 day ago
FILE - Minnesota Lynx center Sylvia Fowles hugs WNBA president Lisa Borders after receiving the MVP...
Associated Press

Farewell, Syl: Fowles exit fueling Lynx in push for playoffs

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Clarity about the end of her exceptional WNBA career came for Sylvia Fowles last year through a feeling of resistance familiar to everyone from elite athletes to average fans. The 2017 league MVP who helped the Minnesota Lynx win two WNBA titles knew her interest in working out was waning. The former […]
1 day ago
Migrants swim next to their overturned wooden boat during a rescue operation by Spanish NGO Open Ar...
Associated Press

AP Week in Pictures: Europe and Africa

August 4 – 11, 2022 From the opening of the European Championships in Munich to the victory of Real Madrid’s fifth UEFA Super Cup in Helsinki, to the funerals of civilian bodies exhumed from a mass grave in Bucha, Ukraine, to the rescued migrants at the sea near Lampedusa and the presidential election in Kenya, […]
1 day ago
United States' Megan Rapinoe celebrates after winning the CONCACAF Women's Championship final socce...
Associated Press

Equal pay deal for US women’s soccer approved by judge

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The proposed $24 million settlement between U.S. women soccer players and the sport’s American governing body was given preliminary approval Thursday by a federal judge, who scheduled a Dec. 5 hearing for final approval. U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner granted the motion for approval filed by the players. “Most significantly, […]
1 day ago
Connecticut Sun guard Courtney Williams, left, tries to pass while under pressure from Los Angeles ...
Associated Press

Connecticut secures No. 3 seed in WNBA playoffs

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Alyssa Thomas had 18 points, nine rebounds and five assists, Jonquel Jones had 17 points and eight rebounds and the Connecticut Sun beat the Los Angeles Sparks 93-69 on Thursday night. Connecticut (24-11) clinched the No. 3 seed in the WNBA playoffs, with Las Vegas (25-10) and Chicago (25-10) both holding […]
1 day ago
Russians open Olympic hockey tournament with another win