What to Expect in the Upcoming Ice Hockey Women’s Championship 2021

What to Expect in the Upcoming Ice Hockey Women’s Championship 2021

04 Aug 2021 | Fredrik Pålsson

What’s up with Nova Scotia? Calgary gets the best of women’s hockey in time for the preparations for the Beijing Winter Olympics.


Nova Scotia (NS) declined to entertain the tournament in May this year, meaning that the 2021 Women’s World Championship was postponed to August, and transferred to Calgary, fewer than six months before the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February.

It appears that the problem lies with the schedule as opposed to anything more sinister. 

According to IIHF(International Ice Hockey Federation ) council member Zsuzsanna Kolbenheyer, ‘it was the only championship program inside the IIHF, and the only category where we did not have a top event in an Olympic year.’

The Women’s Ice Hockey Championship will probably return to the spring but not in an Olympic year. Let’s find out what we can learn from the teams with some insights into the play, so we are ready for the world championship and Beijing with renewed excitement for Women’s Ice Hockey.

Hockey Feast or Famine

Soon, there will be a surplus of international women's hockey, which has been lacking in recent years. However, the good news is the lack of international games has increased the appetite and interest in the game amongst new players and fans alike, with each match turning into a barnburner.

For those unfamiliar with the term 'barnburner,' it means a thrilling or intense game from start to finish. When one team truly out-competes another in a hockey game. A dominant performance in which one team significantly outscores the other. The women's world championship is looking like a whirlwind barnburner. Read on to find out more.

Hockey League Resembles the Football League

Fascinating to many is that the world championship hockey leagues are similar to the European football leagues in terms of structure. Lower-tiered teams compete for promotion and to avoid relegation, which often leads to frustration and despondency.

It’s challenging for division one teams to find the motivation to prepare for top tournaments when they can’t get promoted.

Women’s lower-division championships were introduced seven years ago by the IIHF to encourage federations that don’t invest much in women’s hockey programs to come to the table.

Promotion and relegation remained a problem at the women’s championship. For example, the Slovakian team earned a promotion in 2017 but failed to qualify for the Austrian winter Olympics, meaning they had to wait two years to compete in a top women’s hockey tournament.

Regardless of all this pontification, the rivalry between the US and Canada remains a focus during the world championships.

The USA vs Canada

Hoping to make it the 6th successive championship win since 2013, the USA will make this a world championship to remember. Fans will recognise that the USA took the title after beating Finland in the shootout after the disallowed northern European country’s overtime goal.

The Canadians have a lot to prove, having lost to the Finns in the same tournament. They crashed out without a gold medal, coming in 3rd, meaning no golds since 2012.

Defining the groups by a point system means Canada has 12 points, with the US coming in second with 9 points. It’s no wonder emotions are running high, and players are feeling the tension.

The Groups

Group A consists of ‘The Power Five’:

  • Canada

  • United States 

  • Finland

  • Russian Olympic Committee (ROC)

  • Switzerland

Group B consists of:

  • Japan

  • Czech Republic

  • Germany 

  • Denmark 

  • Hungary

This year’s event has ten teams divided into two groups of five each. In Group A, known as ‘The Power Five,’ every team will make it through to the quarterfinals. Only three teams will progress from Group B, and the third-best squad will face the top team in the quarterfinals.

Each of the participating teams will play four games on the group stage. Final-day teams (from bronze through to the gold-medal games) will compete in a total of seven games.

Star Players 

The star players will take the podium after the final, making it into the history books for their efforts. Let’s take a peek at the contenders for glory.

In the Canadian team Sarah Fillier, the 21-year-old Princeton University captain, is among the newcomers on Canada’s 2021 squad. Brianne Jenner and Marie-Philip Poulin will continue to justify their place as two of Canada’s gold medallists. Melanie Daoust remains the tournament’s top scorer with 10 points in five games, one point ahead of Natalie Spooner.

The Americans will play to their strengths but will no longer have Hilary Knight, who is retiring to become an ESPN analyst with Cassie Campbell-Pascall, the top retired Canadian ice hockey champion.

US roster will feature 17 gold medal-winning squad members, including Cayla Barnes and forward Britta Curl. Players to watch out for include Minnesota’s Sydney Brodt and Dani Cameranesi.

It would be easy to suggest the games in contention will be between Canada and the US alone, but let’s not underestimate the power of the Finns and their lineup. Head coach Pasi Mustonen has built a strong team with captain Jenni Hiirikoski and 19-year-old star player Elisa Holopainen.

‘Smile Japan’, the name given to Japan’s championship team, are outsiders with their best position to date being 7th in 2015. The team will consist of head coach Yuji Iizuka, forward Moeko Fujimoto, with the 2015 veteran Yukiko Kawashima. Chiho Osawa is the captain of this ambitious squad.

No Fans

The play will be over and the winner announced by the end of August, but there will be no crowds to watch the closing ceremony. After NS cancelled the event, Calgary only agreed to host the championships in a bubble environment with no public access.

Regardless of this, ice hockey fans will be glued to their screens as the action is guaranteed to thrill even the most lukewarm audience. 

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