History

Ice hockey has been a part of the Winter Olympics since 1920 – the men’s iteration was initially a part of the Summer Olympics (transferred to Winter in 1924), while the women’s game joined the Winter version in 1998. Canada was the dominant team in the early going (winning six of the first seven tournaments), the Soviet Union took over after that (joining in 1956, winning seven of next nine), and since Canada ended their 50 year gold medal drought in 2002, they’ve bounced back to claim two of the last three. The Olympics okayed the use of all players in 1988 (not just amateurs), and after some initial hesitation from the NHL to allow its players to go, they started sending them in 1998.

Venues

Bolshoy Ice Dome and Shayba Arena

Russian President Vladimir Putin Visits The Sochi Olympic Park

The 12,000 seat, 180 million dollar Bolshoy Ice Dome – which fittingly translates to “Major Ice Dome” in English – was opened in 2012, and will be hockey’s main home in Sochi. Some of the games that are less likely to be highly attended will be played in the Shayba Arena (shayba means “puck” in English), which is a 27.2 million dollar moveable venue that seats 7,000.

Five Names To Know

  1. Sidney Crosby (Canada): Scored the overtime goal in the 2010 gold medal game that saw Canada top the United States.
  2. Zach Parise (USA): Scored late in the third to push the US the overtime against the Canadians in 2010.
  3. Tuukka Rask (Finland): Hockey’s best goalie could steal wins for the underrated Finns.
  4. Caroline Ouellette (Canada): Recently named captain of the Canadian Olympic team, taking over from Hayley Wickenheiser.
  5. Amanda Kessel (USA): Sister of the Maple Leafs’ Phil, scored the game-winner against Canada at the 2013 World Championships.

Details:

  • For men, twelve nations will play in three pools.
  • For women, eight nations play in two pools.
  • Men: The four teams with the best records (group winners plus the second place team with the best record) advance to the quarterfinals, while the remaining eight play for the right to meet them there. It’s single-elimination hockey from there on.
  • Women: The preliminary round will take place in two tiers. Group A will consist of teams ranked 1-4, Group B of teams ranked 5-8. Quarterfinals: 3A-2B and 4A-1B, semi-finals: 1A vs. winner of 4A/1B, 2A vs. winner of 3A/2B.

What’s Different

The Olympics are played on a bigger ice sheet than what North American players are used to – it will be 200 x 100, while NHL rinks are 200 x 85. Fighting is non-existent at the Games as it carries a match penalty. Icing goes from being hybrid to “no-touch” (or “automatic”), meaning there is no race for the puck after it’s been iced. Overtimes become 10-minutes of sudden death followed by a shootout, which differs from the NHL where they play five minutes before the shootout during the regular season, and straight “next goal wins” in playoffs. Teams can dress two more skaters in the Olympics, meaning teams will likely dress 13 forwards and 7 defensemen instead of 12 and 6. Other Olympic differences include penalty shots (any player can take the shot instead of just the fouled player), crease violations (you can’t stand in the crease, in the NHL you can if you don’t touch the goalie), and headgear (visors are mandatory for all players).

Most Likely Podium (Men)

1. Canada

2. Sweden

3. USA

Sweden’s roster is downright scary and anything can happen in single elimination hockey, but it’s tough to argue that the defending champion Canadians aren’t still the favorite. They’ve got the most all-stars, their NHL salaries combine to best any other team, and again – they’re the defending champs. When it comes to the bronze, the Russians have home ice, but they just don’t have the depth of the American squad.

Most Likely Podium (Women)

1. USA

2. Canada

3. Finland

Women’s international hockey almost always comes down to a battle of Canada vs. the US, and this year figures to be no different. It’s the US who’s headed into the 2014 tournament as the favorite, and you can bank on them having to best the Canadians in the gold medal game to prove it.

2010 Podium (Men)

  1. Canada
  2. United States
  3. Finland

2010 Podium (Women)

  1. Canada
  2. United States
  3. Finland

Schedule

Men’s Preliminary Round (24 hr. clock, times EST)

Date Time Game
Wed, Feb. 12 12:00 Czech Republic vs. Sweden
Wed, Feb. 12 12:00 Latvia vs. Switzerland
Thu, Feb. 13 3:00 Finland vs. Austria
Thu, Feb. 13 7:00 Russia vs. Slovenia
Thu, Feb. 13 7:30 Slovakia vs. United States
Thu, Feb. 13 12:00 Canada vs. Norway
Fri, Feb. 14 3:00 Czech Republic vs. Latvia
Fri, Feb. 14 7:30 Sweden vs. Switzerland
Fri, Feb. 14 12:00 Canada vs. Austria
Fri, Feb. 14 12:00 Norway vs. Finland
Sat, Feb. 15 3:00 Slovakia vs. Slovenia
Sat, Feb. 15 7:30 United States vs. Russia
Sat, Feb. 15 12:00 Switzerland vs. Czech Republic
Sat, Feb. 15 12:00 Sweden vs. Latvia
Sun, Feb. 16 3:00 Austria vs. Norway
Sun, Feb. 16 7:30 Russia vs. Slovakia
Sun, Feb. 16 7:30 Slovenia vs. United States
Sun, Feb. 16 12:00 Finland vs. Canada

Men’s Playoff Round

Date Time Qualification Round
Tue, Feb. 18 3:00 Game No. 1
Tue, Feb. 18 7:30 Game No. 2
Tue, Feb. 18 12:00 Game No. 3
Tue, Feb. 18 12:00 Game No. 4
Date Time Quarterfinal Round
Wed, Feb. 19 3:00 Game No. 1
Wed, Feb. 19 7:30 Game No. 2
Wed, Feb. 19 12:00 Game No. 3
Wed, Feb. 19 12:00 Game No. 4
Date Time Semifinal Round
Fri, Feb. 21 7:00 Game No. 1
Fri, Feb. 21 12:00 Game No. 2
Date Time Medal Round
Sat, Feb 22 10:00 Bronze medal game
Sun, Feb 23 7:00 Gold medal game

Women’s Preliminary Round

Date Time Game
Sat, Feb. 8. 3:00 USA vs. Finland
Sat, Feb. 8. 8:00 Canada vs. Switzerland
Sun, Feb. 9 . 3:00 Sweden vs. Japan
Sun, Feb. 9 . 8:00 Russia vs. Germany
Mon, Feb. 10. 5:00 USA vs. Switzerland
Mon, Feb. 10. 10:00 Canada vs. Finland
Tues, Feb. 11. 5:00 Germany vs. Switzerland
Tues, Feb. 11. 10:00 Russia vs. Japan
Wed, Feb. 12. 3:00 Switzerland vs. Finland
Wed, Feb. 12. 7:30 Canada vs. USA
Thu, Feb. 13 3:00 Japan vs. Germany
Thu, Feb. 13 12:00 Sweden vs. Russia

Women’s Playoff Round

Date Time Playoff Round
Sat, Feb. 15 3:00 Women’s quarter-finals
Sat, Feb. 15 7:30 Women’s quarter-finals
Sun, Feb. 16 3:00 Women’s classifications (5th to 8th place)
Sun, Feb. 16 12:00 Women’s classifications (5th to 8th place)
Mon, Feb. 17. 7:30 Women’s semifinals
Mon, Feb. 17. 12:00 Women’s semifinals
Tue, Feb. 18 3:00 Women’s classifications (7th-8th place)
Tue, Feb. 18 12:00 Women’s classifications (5th-6th place)
Thurs, Feb. 20. 7:00 Bronze medal game
Thurs, Feb. 20. 12:00 Gold medal game

All times EST.