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

February 13, 2010 |  8:35 pm

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