2018 Olympics

A Kiwi guide to watching hockey at the Winter Olympics

Here's everything you need to know to follow the men's and women's ice hockey tournaments at PyeongChang 2018.

With a spectacular opening ceremony behind us that celebrated the idea of humans and technology living together in peace and harmony, while uniting the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and South Korea under the one flag of Korea, it’s time for the 2018 Winter Olympics.

It’s already been four years since Sochi and now it’s PyeongChang’s turn to play host to some of the world’s best athletes in ski, snow and ice sports. Despite what feels like a more subdued build up than previous Olympiads, we’re most excited about the ice hockey.

It will be the first time Olympic hockey has been played in an Asian nation since professional players were introduced for men’s hockey at the 1998 Nagano games in Japan. Two decades later, the NHL won’t be sending their players but there’s still plenty of “good pros” around representing their country. Many of whom have years of NHL experience but are now continuing their careers in the European leagues, the KHL, or the American Hockey League.

Women’s hockey also made its Olympic debut in Nagano and their game is stronger than ever as professional leagues like the CWHL continue to grow.

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Team USA Hockey before the Opening Ceremony at PyeongChang2018. Photo: @usahockey, Twitter

HOW DOES IT WORK?

For the men’s tournament there are 12 teams divided into three groups. After three preliminary games, the top four teams made up of the winner from each group plus the second-place team with the best record automatically qualify to play in the quarterfinals. The remaining teams must play a qualifier (5th v 12th, 6th v 11th, 7th v 10th, 8th v 9th) with the winners going through to the quarters.

As for the women, it’s a little different. Eight teams are split into Group A (Canada, USA, Finland, Olympic Athletes from Russia) and Group B (Sweden, Switzerland, Japan, Korea). With Group A featuring a tougher draw the first and second placed teams after preliminary play will qualify directly for the semifinals, while the other two teams must play the top-two from Group B in the quarterfinals. Not too confusing, right?

Like many things in hockey, the rules on deciding a winner can vary for different levels of the game. Here’s how it breaks down for PyeongChang:

Both tournaments will award 3 points for a regulation win, 2 for an overtime or shootout win, a single pity point for an overtime/shootout defeat, and no points for a regulation loss. So yes, there is overtime AND shootouts but that changes depending on the game.

If a preliminary games isn’t decided in regulation there will a five-minute overtime of three-on-three hockey followed by a shootout of five shooters each, while any elimination game (aside from the gold medal game) will play ten minutes of 4-on-4 overtime plus shootout if needed. Overtime extends to a full period of 4-on-4 for the gold medal game, and if that’s not enough to decide the Olympic champions, then it all comes down to the shootout. You can expect some great sporting drama if we see many one-on-ones.

For the shootout, international hockey does it with five shooters a side, rather than the three you see in NHL play. Speaking of the NHL, those coach’s challenges for off-side and goalie interference that we all love so much are also present at the Winter Olympics.

Pyeongchang Olympics Ice Hockey Women
Team Korea practicing ahead of the Olympic tournament. Photo: AP

GET THOSE SNACKS READY

Not all games will be live and free to air on Prime, but you can expect most, if not all, to be live on Sky Sport with six pop-up channels for the Olympics.

Here’s the Puck Yeah guide to watching hockey at PyeongChang2018 with all times displayed in New Zealand Daylight Time (NZDT). Times and details are subject to change by the official broadcaster – be sure to check this article regularly for updates.

Saturday, February 10: Women’s preliminaries
Japan v Sweden, 8:40pm on Olympic Pop-up 2 (Sky56)
Switzerland v Korea, 1:10am (Sunday) on Olympic Pop-up 6 (Sky260)

Sunday, February 11: Women’s prelims
Finland v USA, 8:40pm on Sky Sport 4 (Sky54)
Canada v Olympic Athletes from Russia, 1:10am (Monday) on Olympic Pop-up 4 (Sky58)

Monday, February 12: Women’s prelims
Switzerland v Japan, 8:40pm on Olympic Pop-up 1 (Sky55)
Sweden v Korea, 1:10am (Tuesday) on Olympic Pop-up 5 (Sky259)

Tuesday, February 13: Women’s prelims
Canada v Finland, 8:40pm on Olympic Pop-up 3 (Sky57)
USA v Olympic Athletes from Russia, 1:10am (Wednesday) on Olympic Pop-up 5 (Sky259)

Wednesday, February 14: Men’s & women’s prelims
W: Sweden v Switzerland, 4:10pm on Sky Sport 4 (Sky54)
W: Korea v Japan, 8:40pm on Olympic Pop-up 2 (Sky56)
M: Slovakia v Olympic Athletes from Russia, 1:10am (Thursday) on Olympic Pop-up 3 (Sky57)
M: USA v Slovenia, 1:10am (Thursday) on Olympic Pop-up 6 (Sky260)

Thursday, February 15: Men’s & women’s prelims
M: Finland v Germany, 4:10pm on Olympic Pop-up 5 (Sky259)
W: USA v Canada, 4:10pm on Olympic Pop-up 6 (Sky260)
M: Norway v Sweden, 8:40pm on Olympic Pop-up 2 (Sky56)
W: Olympic Athletes from Russia v Finland, 8:40pm on Olympic Pop-up 6 (Sky260)
M: Czech Republic v South Korea, 1:10am (Friday) on Olympic Pop-up 5 (Sky259)
M: Switzerland v Canada, 1:10am (Friday) on Sky Sport 4 (Sky54)

Friday, February 16: Men’s prelims
USA v Slovakia, 4:10pm on Olympic Pop-up 6 (Sky260)
Olympic Athletes from Russia v Slovenia, 8:40pm on Olympic Pop-up 1 (Sky55)
Finland v Norway, 1:10am (Saturday) on Olympic Pop-up 4 (Sky58)
Sweden v Germany, 1:10am (Saturday) delayed on Olympic Pop-up 2 at approximately 1:30am (Sky56)

Saturday, February 17: Men’s prelims & women’s quarterfinals
M: Canada v Czech Republic, 4:10pm on Olympic Pop-up 4 (Sky58)
W: First quarterfinal – Olympic Athletes from Russia v Switzerland, 4:10pm on Olympic Pop-up 5 (Sky259)
M: South Korea v Switzerland, 8:40pm on Olympic Pop-up 2 (Sky56)
W: Second quarterfinal – Finland v Sweden, 8:40pm on Olympic Pop-up 5 (Sky259)
M: Olympic Athletes from Russia v USA, 1:10am (Sunday) on Olympic Pop-up 6 (Sky260)
M: Slovenia v Slovakia, 1:10am (Sunday) delayed on Olympic Pop-up 2 at approximately 1:20am (Sky56)

Sunday, February 18: Men’s prelims & women’s classifications
M: Germany v Norway, 4:10pm on Olympic Pop-up 4 (Sky58)
W: 5-8 Classifications – Switzerland v Korea, 4:10pm on Olympic Pop-up 5 (Sky259)
M: Czech Republic v Switzerland, 8:40pm on Olympic Pop-up 1 (Sky55)
W: 5-8 Classifications – Sweden v Japan, 8:40pm on Olympic Pop-up 5 (Sky259)
M: Canada v South Korea, 1:10am (Monday) delayed on Olympic Pop-up 2 at approximately 1:25am (Sky56)
M: Sweden v Finland, 1:10am (Monday) on Olympic Pop-up 4 (Sky58)

Monday, February 19: Women’s semifinals
First semifinal – USA v Finland, 5:10pm on Olympic Pop-up 3 (Sky57) and replayed on Prime at 11:30pm
Second semifinal – Canada v Olympic Athletes from Russia, 1:10am (Tuesday) on Sky Sport 4 (Sky54) and replayed on Prime at 10:30pm (Tuesday)

Tuesday, February 20: Men’s playoff qualifiers & women’s classifications 

M: USA v Slovakia, 4:10pm
W: 7-8 Classifications – Sweden v Korea, 4:10pm
M: Slovenia v Norway, 8:40pm
W: 5-6 Classifications – Switzerland v Japan, 8:40pm
M: Finland v South Korea, 1:10am (Wednesday)
M: Switzerland v Germany, 1:10am (Wednesday)

Wednesday, February 21: Men’s quarterfinals & women’s finals
M: First quarterfinal – Czech Republic v USA, 4:10pm on Sky Sport 4 (Sky54)
W: Bronze Medal game – Finland v Olympic Athletes from Russia, 8:40pm on Olympic Pop-up 1 (Sky55)
M: Second quarterfinal – Olympic Athletes from Russia v Norway, 8:40pm on Sky Sport 4 (Sky54)
M: Third quarterfinal – Canada v Finland, 1:10am (Thursday) on Olympic Pop-up 2 (Sky56)
M: Fourth quarterfinal – Sweden v Germany, 1:10am (Thursday) on Olympic Pop-up 5 (Sky259)

Thursday, February 22: Women’s finals
Women’s Gold Medal game – Canada v USA, 5:10pm on Olympic Pop-up 3 (Sky57) and replayed on Prime at 10:30pm

Friday, February 23: Men’s semifinals
First semifinal – Czech Republic v Olympic Athletes from Russia, 8:40pm on Olympic Pop-up 1 (Sky57)
Second semifinal – Canada v Germany: 1:10am (Saturday) on Sky Sport 4 (Sky54)

Saturday, February 24: Men’s finals
Men’s Bronze Medal game – Czech Republic v Canada, 1:10am (Sunday) on Olympic Pop-up 2 (Sky56)

Sunday, February 25: Men’s finals
Men’s Gold Medal game – Olympic Athletes from Russia v Germany, 5:10pm on Olympic Pop-up 3 (Sky57)  and replayed on Prime at 9:30pm

(Main photo: @HC_Women, Twitter)

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