The IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championships took place in Brampton, Ontario over the past two weeks (April 5-16) and it was one hell of a tournament with some spectacular and shocking performances across the board. This year’s tournament included Canada, USA, Switzerland, Czechia, Japan, Finland, Sweden, Germany, Hungary, and France.
A Canada-USA gold medal game never disappoints and it was great to see Czechia take home the bronze (for the second year in a row) with a 3-2 win over Team Switzerland. But what is most amazing about this year’s tournament was the incredible performances and growth we see coming from teams that have historically gone a bit under the radar, which clearly indicate that the gap in women’s hockey is shrinking.
Team Japan has been part of the IIHF since the beginning but have had inconsistent results. The team has seen great success in the past two years and although they finished 7th in this year’s tournament, the team stood out with their speed and strategy with systems. Despite the fact that they didn’t win any games, they managed to keep games against Czechia, Switzerland, and Sweden to a one goal differential.
Team Germany really set the tone to their tournament with a major 6-2 win over Team Sweden, despite Sweden scoring the first goal. Germany utilized their special teams on the power play to get back in the game and took reins heading into the second and third periods. In the teams 3-0 losses against USA and Finland, their goaltender played lights out, stopping 49 and 40 shots, respectively.
The gold medal games are usually predicted to be between Canada and USA and although that may not change in the next couple years, the fight for bronze has become much more of a toss-up than in past years.This can be seen with Czechia’s repeat of taking home the bronze medal.
Most importantly, we are seeing all teams really compete and hold the North Americans to closer scores and seeing less double digit blowout games. Women’s hockey is growing in skill set, talent, and competitiveness on a global scale and it is important to take note of these important wins and note how much progress has been made by all teams each year.
In the podcast (The Athletic Mind), we discuss the growth of the women’s game on an international level a bit more in depth and what the next steps could possibly be for creating even further development in the women’s international game. For the full episode, click here.
Taylor Cook | High Performance Coach