Canada opened their defense of their Olympic men's ice hockey gold medal with a workmanlike 5-1 win over Switzerland on Thursday in a muted contest that failed to fill the Kwandong Hockey Centre.
What would have been one of the hottest tickets at any of the five previous Olympics featuring a Canadian team loaded with National Hockey League stars playing in their tournament opener was treated with disinterest as the world’s best players sat these Games out.
With the NHL deciding to end its Olympic involvement Canada was forced to assemble a roster of mostly anonymous journeymen and minor leaguers, the absence of marquee names having a bigger impact on attendance than on the ice as Canada rolled to a confidence-boosting win.
“You didn’t really know what to expect it’s been a long process we knew the Swiss would have a good and that they would play hard,” Canada coach Willie Desjardins told reporters.
”It was good for us to get out and get a couple of goals early.