Fast-paced and high scoring, the U18 women’s worlds are the gem in the crown of hockey. The players are the best, and the games were a must-watch while they were on. These games felt like the best kind of NHL playoff games, the games that people dream of watching and marketing teams drool over. The best women’s players came out in force for these games and brought the best to this tournament. The hockey is almost beyond words. The plays as so clean, and the defense is unlike anything I’ve seen.
The games varied from close one-goal games to gong-shows where the scores matched the 1980’s. Upsets abounded, with Finland’s dominance continuing with a win over Canada in the round-robin part of the tournament. Even though the games may be over now, you can still watch replays of most of them on ESPN+ under the IIHF hockey section. This is the place to go if you like hockey and want more of it.
My highlight of the tournament was not in itself a game but the aftermath. After a 6-2 win over Germany, the city of Team Slovakia was a thing of beauty. The Slovak team’s joy of getting a win brought a smile to, I am sure, many faces. Two players for Slovakia, Hana Fancovicova and Barbora Kapicakova, scored twice in the win.
While the usual suspects, the United States, and Canada, made the finals, with Canada winning gold, They weren’t as dominant in the past, which shows good things for the future of Women’s hockey, especially on the international stage.
Finnish fans have much to look forward to with their hockey program, both men’s and women’s. Finland continues to amaze on the international stage, following up a bronze at the Olympics with one at the U18s with a 3-0 win over their perennial rivals, Sweden. In the Women’s game, a bronze medal is a massive win if one isn’t from the United States or Canada. With two trophies in two women’s tournaments, we could see even more significant funding for the Finnish women’s national program and perhaps a challenger for the States or Canada.
The United States and Canada faced off for the 100th time in the gold medal game; at least this time, unlike the Olympics, there were comebacks and drama. As full of offense as this game was, the penalties matched it in ferocity with two in each of the opening two periods. At the midpoint of the second period, Canada was up 3-0 with help from Alexia Aubin, Ava Murphy, and Jocelyn Amos. Still, by the third period, the United States had brought it to within one goal. And as a bonus for all of those naysayers of women’s hockey, we even got a scrum.
That whole tweet thread is worth a look. The game ended up tight, with a score of 3-2, but that doesn’t tell the entire story. The United States had 31 shots on goal to Canada’s 21. The goaltending for Canada is spectacular.
There is much more to be said about this tournament and not enough time to discuss it. With the games and the competition getting closer, this tournament will only get better in the future. The women’s game has come so far and will continue only to get better. The U18s showed the talent on all teams and so much talent that hasn’t made themselves known on the international stage. Keep an eye on these girls; I promise they will do great things.