Ice hockey has produced some of the biggest stories in the history of the Winter Games. Here are five reasons why the men’s and women’s events are a must-watch sport at PyeongChang 2018:
The absence of NHL superstars
Now, it might seem strange to list this as a positive, but the absence of the best players in the world should make the men’s ice hockey tournament more exciting and competitive in PyeongChang. USA and Canada – the sport’s two superpowers – will be affected most, because their teams are usually made up exclusively of NHL players. But that will give the other teams, such as Russia and Sweden, more of a chance.
The NHL will not participate in the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. https://t.co/ruEmG5FfJe
— NHL (@NHL) April 3, 2017
A chance to shine
With the NHL stars absent, the USA and Canada teams will be made up of players from overseas, the minor leagues and college hockey. That means opportunity knocks for the new wave. USA coach Tony Granato said: “We’ll be able to put together a fun team, an energetic team and a skilled team that will make America proud.”
— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) November 12, 2017
Superpowers collide in women’s event
Canada have won women’s gold for the last four Olympic Games. Little wonder the US team, ranked number one in the world going into PyeongChang, are so desperate to usurp their near neighbours. “It’s gold or bust,” admitted forward Hilary Knight (above).
Fervent home support
The Republic of Korea are appearing for the first time in both the men’s and women’s tournaments and can expect strong backing from the home supporters. There’s a strong US influence on both, with Jim Paek, a two-time Stanley Cup winner, and Sarah Murray coaching the sides. The crowds really took to the sport at the pre-Olympic test events.
— Hello PyeongChang (@testevents_pc) April 8, 2017
Shiny new surroundings
Two gleaming new venues have been built to host ice hockey at the 2018 Games – the 10,000-capacity Gangneung Hockey Centre and 6,000 Kwandong centre. Players said they were seriously impressed after playing in front of packed-out crowds at the test events.