Road To The Olympic Games

Canada should tone it down: Ruggiero

The way Canada has been racking up goals at the Torino Olympics has some women's hockey fans and players shaking their heads, including American defenceman Angela Ruggiero.

The way the Canadian women's hockey team has been racking up goals at the Torino Olympics has some hockey players and fans shaking their heads.

In their first matchup of the Winter Games, Canada battered the Italian women 16-0. Not more than 24 hours later, they put 12 pucks past the Russians.

Some critics have said the Canadian women lack class, while others hold the view that the defending Olympic champions went to Turin, Italy, to play their best, and that's just what they'll do.

United States defenceman and three-time Olympian Angela Ruggiero says Team Canada should have toned down their game against Italy.

"I'm upset that Canada has been running up the score, especially against the host nation," Ruggiero told Sports Illustrated's website on Monday. "There was no need for that. They're trying to pad their stats ... Canada is running up the score for whatever reasons – personal, short-term."

Canada outscored its opposition 28-0 as of Sunday, while the rival Americans have outscored their opponents 11-0.

In this tournament, tiebreakers are decided first by the deadlocked teams' record against each other and then by goal differential. That differential can determine which team has home-ice advantage in the medal round.

Women's hockey could be on thin ice going into its third Olympics because no other nation has been able to challenge the sport's powerhouses – Canada and the U.S.

Unless the Swedes or Finns really ramp up their contingents, the Americans and Canadians will yet again battle for the gold medal. For all the other countries, the Olympics are a challenge for bronze at best.

"It does hurt our sport when one team is so dominant," said the 26-year-old Ruggiero, regarded as one of the world's top blue-liners. "Beating Russia 12-0 after the Italy game, that doesn't help. If Italy had any hopes, or if their federation was thinking of helping women's hockey, well, this probably shattered them after the first game.

"They'll say, 'How are we ever going to beat those guys?' If you don't have a shot of ever getting there, why not invest in another sport?"

Despite the widespread criticism, Team Canada head coach Melody Davidson says they have to play their best no matter the circumstances.

"Later on, you don't want to look back and think, 'If we had scored one more goal it would have made a difference,'" Davidson said.

"Regardless of the score, this is the Olympics," Davidson said after Sunday's win. "These girls have worked hard to be here and we would take things away from our team, our opponents and everybody involved if we didn't compete as hard as we could, and if we didn't do everything we could to put us where we want to be."

One Canadian hockey fan posted her support for the goal tally on CBC's Torino message board.

"Canada's women played their game and I am glad they did not slack off or play keep away the entire time. The Canadian women need to be prepared to meet the tougher teams later in the tournament and we all know they would like that home-ice advantage in the final game, which due to the rules is only achievable by gaining as many goals as possible."

The Canadian women will face Sweden Tuesday afternoon in Turin (CBC, 9:30 a.m. EST).