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70OLYMPIC REVIEW Canada's national sport, ice hockey will play a prominent role at the Vancouver Games with matches spread out over all but one day of the entire programme. The men's tournament, in which Sweden are the reigning champions, will feature 12 teams battling to advance to the playoff, then medals stages after the opening round robin tournaments. The women's tournament, in which hosts Canada are the two- time defending champions, has a similar format except only eight teams are involved. The Olympic rinks in Vancouver are four metres narrower than their international counterparts, the tournaments being played on a North American ice hockey surface. Held over three, 20- minute periods ice hockey matches usually shape up to be battles of skill, speed, aggression and stamina between teams that contain 20 players and three goalkeepers ( 18 players and three goalkeepers for the women). At any one time only six players from each team are allowed on the ice - five players and one goaltender - as teams battle to get the solid rubber puck into the opposing team's net with slick passing, fast skating and shots which can hit speeds well in excess of 100km/ h. Due to the sport's combative nature, players can often find themselves in the penalty box serving two- minute penalties for minor infractions such as tripping or hooking with the stick, or for longer for fighting or charging from behind. The loss of one or several players, in theory, gives the advantage to the opposing team, resulting in " power plays" where the numerical advantage often, but not always, leads to goals. BelowGoalmouth action as Sweden attack during the men's semi- final in Turin FORMAT