Women’s World Hockey Championships: Preliminary Round Recap

The opening round of the Women’s World Hockey Championships in Calgary, Alberta is now complete. The last time this usually annual tournament was played was in April 2019 when the USA beat Finland for the gold medal. Canada finished in third.

The first week of the tournament has given fans plenty of exciting stories and has set up the quarter-final matchups. Here are the standings after each team’s first four games:

Group A

  1. Canada (4-0-0)
  2. USA (3-1-0)
  3. Finland (2-2-0)
  4. ROC (1-3-0)
  5. Switzerland (0-4-0)

Group B

  1. Czech Republic (4-0-0)
  2. Japan (3-1-0)
  3. Germany (2-2-0)
  4. Hungary (1-3-0)
  5. Denmark (0-4-0)

With all five teams from Group A making the quarterfinals along with the top three from Group B, here are the next set of game matchups:

ROC vs Switzerland

USA vs Japan

Canada vs Germany

Finland vs Czech Republic

Let’s get into the biggest stories from the preliminary round of hockey,

Hilary Knight

Hilary Knight has been a top player on the world stage for over a decade. The Idaho native made her World Championships debut in 2007 when Canada hosted the tournament in Winnipeg and Selkirk, Manitoba. Since that tournament, Knight has racked up 45 goals in World Championships action. During this tournament, she passed former USA team captain, Cammi Granato on the leaderboard for most goals all-time at the women’s World Championships. Granato, who also wore number 21, held the previous record of 44. With Knight’s career far from over, it will be interesting to see how high the 32-year-old will set this record.

The Injury Bug

Unfortunately, this tournament has seen its fair share of injuries. Alina Muller of Switzerland injured her ankle during preliminary round action against ROC. She fell awkwardly and had to be helped off the ice. She will not return to the tournament. This is a big loss for Switzerland and her impact on the game is almost impossible for the team to replace.

Canada’s captain, Marie-Philip Poulin was sidelined for their last game against the USA. She blocked a shot in her collarbone/neck area against Switzerland but Gina Kingsbury, Director of Women’s National Teams of Hockey Canada said, “She’s doing better than she was yesterday. She’s in good spirit”. Canada hopes to have her back as they move into elimination games.

Jenni Hiirikoski

In Finland’s preliminary round game against the USA, Jenni Hiirikoski became the all-time games-played leader at the Women’s Worlds with 70. She passed fellow Finn and former teammate, Karoliina Rantamaki to take on this position. The 34-year-old defenceman joined the Finnish women’s National Team at the World Championship in 2004.

Canada vs the USA

The final game of group action for Canada and the USA was set to be a showdown and potentially a preview of the gold medal game. Canada game is out ready to play and dominated their opponent. The USA came into this game with a 29 game win streak at the World Championships. Even without their leader, Poulin, Canada was able to beat the USA, 5-1. Jamie Lee Rattray scored two and Melodie Daoust, Renata Fast and Sarah Nurse each added one to Canada’s total. Lee Stecklein scored the USA’s lone goal late in the third period. It was certainly an off day for the USA but Canada played a solid game. It will be interesting to see if these two teams meet again down the road at this tournament.

The group stage of the Women’s World Hockey Championships was full of incredible hockey. The stakes only get higher from here on out and the team’s know what’s on the line. The quarterfinals will happen on Friday so be sure to tune into the games.

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