Winter Olympics 2014 Preview: Women's hockey tournament

Amanda Kessel and Team USA won gold at the Worlds in 2013, will they take home Olympic gold as well? - Richard Wolowicz/Freestyle Photo

Canada and USA stand alone on the women's side of the hockey tournament, but a new format may spice things up.

The biggest story surrounding the women's tournament this year is the change in format. After Team Canada and Team USA rolled all of their opponents with a combined score of 72-3 (really) in the preliminary round in Vancouver in 2010, the International Olympic Committee hinted that things had to change or women's hockey might no longer have a place at the Olympic Games. Enter a commitment to spend some serious coin growing the game in other countries, as well as the new format.

With an eye on increasing competitiveness of the women's tournament, the IIHF introduced the aforementioned new format for the upcoming Olympic Games. It has been used in the World Championships since 2012 with promising results, and will be used in these Olympic Games to make the preliminary rounds more competitive. It might also provide some upsets and possible an unexpected bronze medal winner.

Here's how it works:

• There are two groups, with the top-ranked teams in one and the other qualifying teams in the other.

• Group A has Canada, Finland, Switzerland, and USA (I call it the Good Teams Group), while Group B has Germany, Japan, Russia, and Sweden (the Other Teams Group).
• For the Good Teams, the preliminary round is for seeding purposes only, as the top ranked teams will automatically go through to the semi-finals, while the bottom two will play in the quarters...
• ...against the top two Other Teams. Whoever wins in the quarterfinals will have the honour of losing to either the US or Canada in the semis, and then the US and Canada can go ahead to the forgone conclusion.

The format was first used in the 2012 World Championships, and it seems to be working well in terms of the competitiveness of the games, at least until the semi-finals.

So, what else can we expect?

Well, as usual, the US and Canada are heavily favoured over to make the final. However, Team Canada's road to Sochi has been a little bumpy as of late, with a coaching change less than two months ago, as well as four straight losses to the Americans in a six-game exhibition series.

Team USA, meanwhile, is hitting on all cylinders and is looking quite unbeatable. As you've probably heard or seen, there have been some quality brawls between these two teams in the last couple of games, and they really are appointment viewing.

Finland and Sweden have a rivalry as intense as the US and Canada have with each other (although it's a lopsided one in favour of Finland), so if they end up facing each other in the quarter finals, it should be a good game.

Team Sweden is trying to prove it belongs, as the Swedish Olympic Committee apparently threatened not to send a women's team to Sochi at all because of a disappointing performance as of late.

The Swiss team won their first ever medal at the Worlds in 2012, where the new format was introduced, and are hoping it works for them yet again.

Team Russia is probably hoping that the new format ends up working for them, with their eye on a bronze medal at home. Also, they are managed by Alexei Yashin (!).

Germany and Japan round out the Other Teams Group and are also the only two teams without counterparts in the men's tournament, which I think is kind of cool.

Without further ado here are all the rosters for the women's hockey tournament at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.

Team Russia's roster:

Anna PRUGOVA G Tornado , Dmitrov, RUS
Yulia LESKINA G Spartak-Merkury, Yekaterinburg, RUS
Anna VINOGRADOVA G Fakel, Chelyabinsk, RUS
Angelina GONCHARENKO D Agidel, Ufa, RUS
Alyona KHOMICH D Agidel, Ufa, RUS
Anna SHUKINA D Tornado Moscow Region
Svetlana TKACHYOVA D Tornado , Dmitrov, RUS
Alexandra KAPUSTINA D SKIF , Nizhny Novgorod, RUS
Anna SHIBANOVA D Agidel , Ufa, RUS
Inna DYUBANOK D Tornado, Dmitrov, RUS
Iya GAVRILOVA F Tornado, Moscow, RUS
Alexandra VAFINA F Fakel, Chelyabinsk, RUS
Yekaterina SMOLENTSEVA F Tornado , Dmitrov, RUS
Olga SOSINA F SKIF , Nizhny Novgorod, RUS
Tatyana BURINA F Tornado, Moscow, RUS
Yekaterina LEBEDEVA F Fakel , Chelyabinsk, RUS
Anna SHOKHINA F Tornado, Dmitrov, RUS
Galina SKIBA F Tornado , Dmitrov, RUS
Yekaterina PASHKEVICH F Agidel, Ufa, RUS
Yekaterina SMOLINA F Tornado, Dmitrov, RUS
Yelena DERGACHYOVA F Agidel, Ufa, RUS

Team Canada's roster:

Shannon Szabados G Canada NAIT Ooks (CCAA)
Meghan Agosta-Marciano F Canada Montreal Stars (CWHL)
Jocelyne Larocque D Canada Calgary Inferno (CWHL)
Lauriane Rougeau D United States Cornell Big Red (NCAA)
Rebecca Johnston F Canada Toronto Furies (CWHL)
Laura Fortino D United States Cornell Big Red (NCAA)
Jennifer Wakefield F Canada Toronto Furies (CWHL)
Gillian Apps F Canada Brampton Thunder (CWHL)
Meaghan Mikkelson D Canada Calgary Inferno (CWHL)
Caroline Ouellette – C F Canada Montreal Stars (CWHL)
Mélodie Daoust F Canada McGill Martlets (CIS)
Jayna Hefford – A F Canada Brampton Thunder (CWHL)
Catherine Ward – A D Canada Montreal Stars (CWHL)
Brianne Jenner F United States Cornell Big Red (NCAA)
Haley Irwin F Canada Montreal Stars (CWHL)
Hayley Wickenheiser – A F Canada Calgary Dinos (CIS)
Natalie Spooner F Canada Toronto Furies (CWHL)
Tara Watchorn D Canada Calgary Inferno (CWHL)
Marie-Philip Poulin F United States Boston University Terriers (NCAA)
Geneviève Lacasse G United States Boston Blades (CWHL)
Charline Labonté G Canada Montreal Stars (CWHL)

Team USA:

Molly Schaus G United States Boston Blades (CWHL)
Brianne McLaughlin G Canada Burlington Barracudas (CWHL)
Jessie Vetter G United States Oregon Outlaws (GLHL)
Megan Bozek D United States University of Minnesota (WCHA)
Gisele Marvin D United States Boston Blades (CWHL)
Michelle Picard D United States Harvard University (ECACH)
Anne Schleper D United States Boston Blades (CWHL)
Kacey Bellamy D United States Boston Blades (CWHL)
Josephine Pucci D United States Harvard University (ECACH)
Lee Stecklein D United States University of Minnesota (WCHA)
Alex Carpenter F United States Boston College (HEA)
Monique Lamoureux F United States University of North Dakota (WCHA)
Meghan Duggan F United States Boston Blades (CWHL)
Lyndsey Fry F United States Harvard University (ECACH)
Julie Chu F Canada Montreal Stars (CWHL)
Brianna Decker F United States University of Wisconsin (WCHA)
Kelli Stack F United States Boston Blades (CWHL)
Jocelyne Lamoureux F United States University of North Dakota (WCHA)
Hilary Knight F United States Boston Blades (CWHL)
Kendall Coyne F United States North Eastern University (HEA)
Amanda Kessel F United States University of Minnesota (WCHA)

Team Sweden:

Sara GRAHN G Brynas IF, Gavle, SWE
Kim MARTIN HASSON G Linkopings HC, Sweden
Valentina WALLNER G MODO Hockey, Ornskoldsvik, SWE
Sofia ENGSTROM D Leksands IF, Sweden
Lina BACKLIN D Brynas IF, Sweden
Johanna OLOFSSON D MODO Hockey, Ornskoldsvik, SWE
Josefine HOLMGREN D Brynas IF, Sweden
Emilia ANDERSSON D Linkopings HC, Sweden
Linnea BACKMAN D AIK , Solna, SWE
Emma ELIASSON D Munksund Skuthamn SK, Pitea, SWE
Jenni ASSERHOLT F Linkopings HC, Sweden
Cecilia OSTBERG F Leksands IF, Sweden
Lina WESTER F Leksands IF, Sweden
Pernilla WINBERG F Munksund Skuthamn SK, Pitea, SWE
Anna BORGQVIST F Brynas IF, Sweden
Maria LINDH F MODO Ornskoldsvik
Fanny RASK F AIK, Solna, SWE
Erica UDEN JOHANSSON F IF Sundsvall
Erika GRAHM F MODO Ornskoldsvik
Emma NORDIN F MODO Hockey, Ornskoldsvik, SWE
Michelle LOWENHIELM F AIK , Solna, SWE

Team Finland:

Eveliina SUONPAA G Team Kuortane
Meeri RAISANEN G JYP Jyvaskyla, Finland
Noora RATY G Ilves Tampere, Finland
Emma TERHO D Espoo Blues, Finland
Rosa LINDSTEDT D JYP Jyvaskyla, Finland
Anna KILPONEN D Team Kuortane
Jenni HIIRIKOSKI D JYP Jyvaskyla, Finland
Mira JALOSUO D SKIF Nizhny Novgorod, Russia
Saija TARKKI D Karpat Oulu, Finland
Tea VILLILA D University of Minnesota Duluth
Venla HOVI F KalPa Kuopio, Finland
Linda VALIMAKI F Espoo Blues, Finland
Annina RAJAHUHTA F Espoo Blues, Finland
Riikka VALILA F JYP Jyvaskyla, Finland
Minnamari TUOMINEN F Espoo Blues
Vilma TANSKANEN F Team Kuortane
Michelle KARVINEN F University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND, USA
Nina TIKKINEN F Karpat Oulu, Finland
Karoliina RANTAMAKI F SKIF Nizhny Novgorod, Russia
Susanna TAPANI F University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND, USA
Emma NUUTINEN F Espoo Blues, Finland

Team Germany:

Ivonne SCHRODER G Tornado Niesky [men], Germany
Viona HARRER G EC Bad Tolz [men], Germany
Jennifer HARSS G ERC Bulls Sonthofen, Germany
Jessica HAMMERL D TSV Erding [men], Germany
Anja WEISSER D University of P.E.I.
Susann GOTZ D OSC Berlin, Germany
Susanne FELLNER D ECDC Memmingen, Germany
Tanja EISENSCHMID D University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND, USA
Sophie KRATZER F ESC Planegg, Germany
Manuela ANWANDER F ERC Ingolstadt, Germany
Bettina EVERS F ESC Planegg, Germany
Nina KAMENIK F OSC Berlin, Germany
Julia ZORN F ESC Planegg, Germany
Jacqueline JANZEN F ECDC Memmingen Indians, Germany
Andrea LANZL F ERC Ingolstadt, Germany
Sara SEILER F ERC Ingolstadt, Germany
Kerstin SPIELBERGER F EHC Klostersee [men], Germany
Lisa Christine SCHUSTER F OSC Berlin
Franziska BUSCH F ECDC Memmingen, Germany
Monika BITTNER F ESC Planegg, Germany
Maritta BECKER F ERC Ingolstadt, Germany

Team Japan:

Azusa NAKAOKU G Toyota Cygnus, Tomakomai, JPN
Akane KONISHI G Kushiro Bears, Japan
Nana FUJIMOTO G Voltex Sapporo, Japan
Shiori KOIKE D Mitsuboshi Daito Peregrine, Japan
Yoko KONDO D Seibu Princess Rabbits, Tokyo, JPN
Ayaka TOKO D Seibu Princess Rabbits, Japan
Kanae AOKI D Mitsuboshi Daito Peregrine, Tomakomai, JPN
Sena SUZUKI D Seibu Princess Rabbits, Tokyo, JPN
Mika HORI D Toyota Cygnus, Tomakomai, JPN
Tomoe YAMANE D Toyota Cygnus, Japan
Aina TAKEUCHI D Daishin, Japan
Haruna YONEYAMA F Mitsuboshi Daito Peregrine, Tomakomai, JPN
Yurie ADACHI F Seibu Princess Rabbits, Tokyo, JPN
Chiho OSAWA F Mitsuboshi Daito Peregrine, Tomakomai, JPN
Moeko FUJIMOTO F Mitsuboshi Daito Peregrine, Tomakomai, JPN
Rui UKITA F Daishin, Japan
Yuka HIRANO F Mitsuboshi Daito Peregrine, Tomakomai, JPN
Tomoko SAKAGAMI F Mitsuboshi Daito Peregrine, Tomakomai, JPN
Miho SHISHIUCHI F Toyota Cygnus, Japan
Hanae KUBO F Seibu Princess Rabbits, Japan
Ami NAKAMURA F Seibu Princess Rabbits, Tokyo, JPN

Team Switzerland:

Janine ALDER G EHC Winterthur [men's], Switzerland
Sophie ANTHAMATTEN G EHC Saastal [men's], Switzerland
Florence SCHELLING G EHC Bulach [men's], Switzerland
Sarah FORSTER D HC Ajoie, Switzerland
Julia MARTY D Linkopings HC, Sweden
Lara STALDER D University of Minnesota Duluth
Nicole BULLO D HC Lugano, Switzerland
Angela FRAUTSCHI D ZSC Lions, Zurich, SUI
Laura BENZ D ZSC Lions, Zurich, SUI
Livia ALTMANN D ZSC Lions, Zurich, SUI
Sandra THALMANN D SC Reinach, Switzerland
Katrin NABHOLZ F ZSC Lions, Zurich, SUI
Stefanie MARTY F Linkopings HC, Sweden
Sara BENZ F ZSC Lions, Zurich, SUI
Evelina RASELLI F HC Lugano, Switzerland
Nina WAIDACHER F College of St. Scholastica
Jessica LUTZ F Ronin, United States
Alina MULLER F EHC Winterthur [men's], Switzerland
Romy EGGIMANN F HC Lugano, Switzerland
Anja STIEFEL F HC Lugano, Switzerland
Phoebe STANZ F Yale University

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