Analysis

Olympic hockey teams don't see Canada's Brianne Jenner until it's too late

Leave it to Brianne Jenner to fly under the radar while leading the Olympic women's hockey tournament in goal scoring. The 5-foot-9 winger tallied her second hat trick of the week in Canada's 11-0 quarter-final win over Sweden, bringing her total to eight goals in five games. 

30-year-old winger notches 2nd hat trick of tournament

Canada's Brianne Jenner (19) scores one of her three goals against Sweden during the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing on Friday. (Andrew Lahodynskyj/The Canadian Press/COC)

Leave it to Brianne Jenner to fly under the radar while leading the Olympic women's hockey tournament in goal scoring.

The 5-foot-9 winger tallied her second hat trick of the week in Canada's 11-0 quarter-final win over Sweden, bringing her total to eight goals in five games. 

With so many teammates also making an impact, Jenner's contributions have sometimes gone unheralded. The 30-year-old leads all Canadians with 27 shots on net through the tournament, including eight against the Swedes. And the shots she's taking are dangerous: seven of those eight were from the slot.

"She's a player that you can't ignore in this tournament," said CBC reporter Kenzie Lalonde. "She's just an absolute threat in that area."

Sarah Fillier also recorded a hat trick in the match and sits tied with Jenner for the tournament goals lead; both are one shy of equalling the Olympic goals record. With two quarter-finals left to play, nine of the tournament's top 10 scorers are Canadian.

"I don't think we set out every game to hit double digit goals," Fillier said. "We're playing within our system and our system is to produce offence, and we're just burying the puck at a pretty efficient rate."

WATCH | All of Canada's 11 goals in quarter-final victory:

Watch all of Canada's 11 goals in blowout win over Sweden

10 months ago
Duration 3:33
Brianne Jenner and Sarah Fillier both collected hat-tricks in the Canadian women's 11-0 quarter-final win.

Scoring depth continues to be a theme for Canada, with 16 players registering at least a point in the game. Coach Troy Ryan relied heavily on players who typically see fewer minutes, providing an opportunity for more athletes to step up into bigger roles. But that didn't stop the stars from producing. 

"The goal is to win the gold," forward Blayre Turnbull said. "But being able to score so many goals and score in so many different ways gives us confidence. It shows that everything we've practised throughout the season is paying off."

Goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer had to make some key saves early in the game, but once the Canadians jumped from a 1-0 edge to a 4-0 lead in the final three minutes of the opening period, they began to roll.

"We knew they were going to push hard and that we were going to have to be tight with them," said Swedish starting goalie Emma Söderberg. "It feels like we lost them in our own zone sometimes, and they came sneaking in the whole time. They did that very well throughout the whole game."

WATCH | Sarah Fillier a 'generational talent' college coach says:

Sarah Fillier a 'generational talent,' says her college coach

10 months ago
Duration 6:37
Princeton women's hockey coach Cara Morey joined CBC's The Hockey Show, and described player Sarah Fillier a 'generational talent' when asked why she recruited the Canadian.

The Canadians have acquitted themselves well in the absence of the injured Mélodie Daoust, with Jamie Lee Rattray filling in on the second line. Sarah Nurse and Emily Clark have also swapped places in the lineup through recent games, suggesting that Canada isn't afraid to mix things up when called for.

Daoust, the tournament MPV in Pyeongchang as well as last year's world championships, is now back practising after sitting a few days after being hit in Canada's first game. If she can return in time for the semifinal, that game may provide another stage to test and, if needed, rework the combinations.

Amidst dominant performances in competition, the Canadians are approaching their training time strategically, and must rely on it to keep up their tempo and intensity.

"Now that it's in the do or die moment, it is very much just a maintenance and a flow, keeping the energy in the right place and making sure that the focus is there," Lalonde said.

She said that Canada has balanced work with rest and devoted plenty of time to reviewing tape. 

"We break down games from both pools and we are as prepared as we can be through video," Ryan said, as Canada awaits news of its next opponent. "You can generally see what they have done throughout the event and you build your game plan around that."

There's also been a focus on generating offence from the boards, which will remain key to creating quality scoring chances against tenacious defensive efforts.

"I think that's the difference so far," Lalonde said. "Canada finds a way to get the goals in not-ideal shooting situations."

WATCH | Full game, Canada vs. Sweden:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kirsten Whelan has covered women's hockey since 2015, from the youth level through to professional and international competition. She is based in Montreal.

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