By Steve Keating
GANGNEUNG, South Korea (Reuters) - Canadian athletes have not hidden their feelings over the Russian doping scandal at the Pyeongchang Winter Games and the women's hockey team made their point on the ice on Sunday with a 5-0 win over the Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR).
The controversy surrounding Russian athletes' participation at the Games could be felt significantly at Kwandong Hockey Center as Canada seemed to delight in clinically dismantling a Russian team that had six of its players, including leading scorer Yekaterina Smolentseva, banned for life by the IOC over doping allegations linked to the 2014 Sochi Games.
"You mean the Olympic Athletes from Russia," corrected Canada coach Laura Schuler, when asked about playing Russia. "Anytime you get an opportunity to wear the jersey no matter who you are playing it is always about your best performance.
"Our focus is on us and preparing we put our trust in the IOC and WADA and making sure that it is an equal playing ground for everybody.
"It was great they were able to field a team."
With or without those six players the outcome was always destined to be one sided with Canada, seeking a fifth consecutive gold medal, going against a country that finished sixth in Sochi and that has yet to find the Olympic podium.
Following the IOC's decision to ban Russia from the Games over the doping scandal but allow cleared athletes to compete as Olympic Athletes from Russia, tensions have been running high in South Korea.
Those boiled over in a minor incident last week when a Russian hockey coach said he had been verbally abused in the Olympic Village over the participation of Russian athletes.
No one seemed quite certain if that incident involved a Canadian but just to be sure the Canadian Olympic Committee issued an apology anyway.
That, however, is where the goodwill appeared to end.
Canada were relentless right from the opening faceoff but despite badly outplaying and outshooting their opponent 15-5, they could not put a puck past a brilliant netminder Nadezhda Morozova.
The assault carried over into the second quarter and the breakthrough came quickly. Brianne Jenner, from behind the OAR net, spotted Rebecca Johnston unmarked powering down the slot. Taking a perfect feed, Johnston hammered it into the open net.
Only two minutes later, Haley Irwin made it 2-0 and Melodie Daoust added another late in the frame to send Canada into the second intermission with a comfortable lead.
Johnston and Daoust each notched their second of the night in the third while Ann-Renee Desbiens completed the shutout.
(Editing by Christian Radnedge)