After over a year and a half of no international women’s hockey competition due to COVID-19, the puck is set to drop on a historic Women’s World Championship in Denmark, as the IIHF for the first time is hosting the tournament in the same year as an Olympic tournament.
Since international women’s hockey resumed last August, Canada has returned to the top of the hockey world in dominating fashion, going undefeated en route to Gold medals at both the 2021 Worlds and 2022 Olympics, outscoring their opponents 91-17, and defeating their rival American counterparts four times in that span. Canada enters Denmark the favourites to repeat as champions, with the likes of power scorers Marie-Philip Poulin, Sarah Nurse and Sarah Fillier highlighting the Canadian roster. Team USA of course will be looking for revenge against their longtime rivals, but will be missing the likes of star players Brianna Decker and Alex Cavallini, and are debuting a number of first-time national team players.
Behind the Americans are the usual squads trying to put a dent into the North American rivalry, with Finland and Switzerland, looking to replicate their magical runs from the 2019 World Championship and 2014 Olympics, respectively. Rounding out Group A (playing in Herning) this year will be Japan, moved up thanks to Russia’s expulsion from international competition due to their invasion of Ukraine. Japan moving up opened a spot in Group B for Sweden to return to the Top Division for the first time since 2019, competing against Germany, Czechia, Hungary and hosts Denmark in Frederikshavn, all fighting to avoid being relegated to Division IA in 2023, to be replaced by France.
Click here to see the full World Women’s Championship schedule
From the perspective of the IHLC, a few interesting facts related to this year’s Women’s World Championship, starting on 25 August:
– as mentioned, this is the first ever Women’s World Championship to be held in an Olympic year since women’s hockey debuted at the 1998 Nagano Games; Canada won Gold in the two tournaments held in Olympic years prior to women’s hockey debuting, in 1992 and 1994
– Canada enters as incumbent IHLC champions for the first time since 2019, and for the fifteenth time in tournament history (1990-2000, 2005, 2007-09, 2012, 2015, 2017, 2019, 2022)
– Canada is looking to win its second consecutive Gold for the first time since 2004, and first in Europe since 1999‘s victory in Finland
– this is the first time the World Championship will be hosted by Denmark, and first held in Europe since Malmö, Sweden hosted in 2015, where Team USA won their second of five straight Gold Medals
– this year’s tournament sees the return of Sweden to the Top Division for the first time since 2019, replacing Russia in Group B; recently promoted Hungary and hosts Denmark are also returning for the second consecutive year
– if Canada wins Gold, they will join the men’s teams of Sweden in 2006 (Olympics & Worlds) and Finland earlier this year (Olympics & Worlds) as the only team to win Olympic and World Championship Gold in the same year