Canadian hockey women defend blowout victories
The Canadian women's hockey team doesn't think its lopsided victories at the Olympics are hurting the sport.
Canada has destroyed a pair of overmatched opponents so far in Vancouver, crushing Slovakia 18-0 on Saturday before beating Switzerland 10-1 on Monday.
The defending Olympic champions have outshot their opponents by a combined 129-21 heading into their round-robin finale against Sweden on Wednesday.
Goal differential is one of the criteria for breaking ties in the standings, but that's highly unlikely to be a concern for the Canadians. They probably won't be tested until, if as expected, they meet the arch-rival United States in the gold medal game.
The Americans defeated China 12-1 in their opener.
Canadian forward Gillian Apps suggested her team wasn't trying to run up the score on helpless opponents.
'Getting better each day'
"I think it's just about getting something out of the game, and making sure we're playing together, and we're getting better each game we play," Apps said. "I think we respect our opponents absolutely, but as far as our team is concerned, in our locker room it's all about getting better each day and moving forward."
The carnage has led some to question whether women's hockey belongs on the Olympic program. In the past, the IOC has excluded sports, such as women's ski jumping, that don't meet a certain standard of competitive balance.
Defenceman Catherine Ward doesn't thinks the blowouts will hurt the weaker countries, which have far fewer registered female players than Canada and the U.S., or the future of the sport.
"When you start a program, for sure there's going to be a gap, and that's what Slovakia's experiencing," Ward said. "Their experience is great for them because they're going to develop even quicker, so that's what we need."
Forward Haley Irwin agreed.
"I think for those countries, it's great that they're here, and they're at an Olympics, too, and it means something for them," she said. "It's great for women's hockey, and it'll keep growing over the years.