After one of the most dramatic years in international women’s hockey history, with both a thrilling World Championship final and an off-ice reckoning over women’s equality in the game, 2020 was set to be a watershed year in women’s hockey.
Then COVID-19 shut down the planet.
Thanks to travel restrictions and lockdowns across the globe, the 2020 World Championships in Halifax and Truro, Canada were cancelled, with the Nova Scotia cities awarded the tournament for April 2021, which, at the current trends of global COVID numbers, may still be in question as well. A venue for the 2020 Four Nations Cup was not even considered, due to travel restrictions between the North American (Canada and the United States) and European (Sweden and Finland) participants, meaning if the tournament returns in 2021, it will mark the first Cup since 2018.
The only women’s international games to take place in the 2020 calendar year were the tail end of the 2019-20 Rivalry Series, which saw Canada win Game 3 in Victoria in an overtime victory, before dropping Game 4 and 5 to Team USA, the latter in overtime, to score Team USA the Rivalry Series trophy, winning the series four games to one. The finale marked a high point for the rivalry, with a record crowd of 13,320 attending in Anaheim to watch a 4-3 U.S. overtime victory; a number we may not see for some time in any capacity for an international hockey crowd, unfortunately.
The following games were contested over the women’s IHLC in 2020 (click for game recaps and boxscores):
380. 🇨🇦 CAN 3-2 USA 🇺🇸 (OT) – 03 Feb 2020 – RS – Victoria 🇨🇦
381. 🇺🇸 USA 3-1 CAN 🇨🇦 – 05 Feb 2020 – RS – Vancouver 🇨🇦
382. 🇺🇸 USA 4-3 CAN 🇨🇦 (OT) – 08 Feb 2020 – RS – Anaheim 🇺🇸
The IHLC Rankings for 2020 were as follows (total all-time wins and rankings in parentheses):
01. 🇺🇸 UNITED STATES – 2 wins (139, 2nd)
02. 🇨🇦 CANADA – 1 win (225, 1st)
Due to the lack of play since February, Team USA carries the IHLC into 2021, with major question marks about their next game still to be addressed. Whether Team USA will have the possibility to play any exhibition games before the 2021 Women’s Worlds in Nova Scotia, or if that tournament can even take place given the current pandemic situation in Canada, and if Halifax can host a bubble like the Edmonton World Juniors bubble, is still to be determined, meaning unfortunately that this stalemate in women’s international hockey may continue deep into 2021.
Photo Credit: University Of Minnesota – IIHF – HHOF – IOC