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A tough lesson for Slovakian women in 18-0 loss to Canada

Goaltender Zuzana Tomcikova sounded for a moment like she wanted to cry, but she maintained her composure as bravely after Slovakia's 18-0 loss to defending champion Canada on Saturday as she had while facing 67 shots during her country’s women’s Olympic hockey debut.


“All of the girls played really well in front of me. I tried my hardest. Maybe I didn’t help them as much as I wanted to but I’m really proud of my team, how they fought,” said Tomcikova, who is a sophomore at Bemidji State University in Minnesota.


“I don’t even know how many shots there were. It was hard but my girls helped me out so much. I’m really proud of how they did and I’m sorry I didn’t help them more than I did.”


Tomcikova acquitted herself well in front of a crowd of 16,496 at Canada Hockey Place, easily the largest gathering she had ever played before, making a few acrobatic saves in the early going before Canada’s skill, depth and speed took over.


Canada scored on deflections, rebounds, one-timers, and twice while short-handed within a span of 44 seconds.


Jayna Hefford had three goals and three assists, Meghan Agosta had three goals and two assists and Caroline Ouellette contributed a goal and four assists as Canada set a record for the most lopsided win in its Olympic history, which consists of four tournaments.


Canadian goalie Kim St-Pierre made nine saves for the shutout.


“For us as a team it was about having good habits,” Canadian forward Jennifer Botterill said. “We’ve had a demanding schedule all year. I think we’ve worked really hard, so today it was about playing as a team and staying connected and making sure that we did stay sharp and had really good habits out there.”


Tessa Bonhomme, who had a goal and an assist, applauded Tomcikova’s efforts.


“I thought she battled hard and she stuck in there. She should be very proud of herself,” Bonhomme said.


“We’ve got a lot of talented players on our team. I’d hate to be a goalie and seeing Meghan Agosta coming down on me. I feel bad for her in that sense but she should feel proud. She fought hard throughout the whole game and she didn’t give up until the buzzer went. Good for her.”


But such one-sided scores can’t be good for the women’s game. Botterill pointed out that even in men’s tournaments, such as the world junior competition, early-round games often produce mismatches between nations whose programs are established and those whose programs are still growing. Experience on the international stage is vital to improvement, and Tomcikova said she and her teammates will take some valuable lessons from Saturday’s game.


“We can learn a lot,” she said. “Women’s hockey in our country doesn’t have so much experience. It just started 10 years ago or so. We’re still a building program and I hope people at home liked our game and liked how we fought and they’re going to support us more.”

--Helene Elliott in Vancouver, Canada

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Comments (4)

Are american universities the training center for all foriegn olympic athletes,is this why Americans can't afford to send their children to state universities because those classrooms and dorms are filled with foriegn students and athletes?Sad but true.

The Slovak women are to be congratulated, thanked and encouraged. They want to build a program, and need to gain experience at every level. Playing even one game in the Winter Olympics tells them something about the highest standards.

If they want one day to meet those standards, they have started in the right place.

Losing 18-0 to Canada is tough, but in a way beside the point. Canadians invented the sport, they've been at it for over a century, and their women's team could beat most of our non-NHL men's teams in a nanosecond. They are amazingly good, fast, accurate and unafraid. It's almost shocking how powerful those Canadian women really are.

BUT: no one expected Bambi to outplay Godzilla.

The future for these Slovak athletes lies in the fact that they did not give up, did not assign blame, and are determined to learn. If there is an Olympic "spirit", surely that's it. Well done!

It was a heroic performance by Tomcikova; tough to imagine a goalie giving up 18 goals and probably being deserving of being named one of the three stars of the game, if they did that in the Olympics.

Separately, the other students at Bemidji State are lucky to be able to learn from her, and her culture, to celebrate the diversity on this planet. I'm a bit embarrassed by the attitude that we should only hang out with ourselves. The best part of my college experience ages ago was meeting people who are not like me or from my home street and getting to know them and, as a result, improve myself.

Since the Olympics are "technically" amateur athletics, there should be a ten-goal mercy rule instilled in hockey.


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