From first place to last place, all 10 national teams competing in Herning and Frederikshavn, Denmark had some games they’d prefer to forget. Yet more importantly, they can all carry some positive memories and achievements into the 2023 tournament this spring in Canada.
Let’s take a look back at some highlights – and a handful of lows – for each country in alphabetical order.
At the 2022 Beijing Winter Games, the Canadians regained their Olympic crown with a perfect record and 57-10 goal difference. Conversely, in Denmark, the Marie-Philip Poulin-captained squad had a harder time generating offence (33-9 goal difference). Canada lost 5-2 to the archrival Americans in the group stage before edging them 2-1 in the final to repeat as champs.
Assistant captain Brianne Jenner continued her tradition of rising to the occasion against the U.S., scoring both goals in the gold medal game to total 101 career national team points. The 31-year-old power forward now has more points (7+8=15) in the last 12 Canada-U.S. Olympic and Women’s Worlds games than any other player.
Here’s another amazing stat. Since debuting at the 2021 Women’s Worlds, Sarah Fillier – the only Canadian named to this year’s all-star team with a Canada-leading 11 points – has registered 18 of her 28 points on either Canada’s first or second goal of the game in her 21 official IIHF games. At age 22, she is a true offensive catalyst for coach Troy Ryan.
Other personal triumphs included 37-year-old defender Meaghan Mikkelson’s recovery from injury and return to IIHF competition for the first time since the 2018 Olympics and 24-year-old forward Sarah Potomak’s first Women’s Worlds gold medal after settling for silver in her lone previous tournament appearance in 2017.
The Czechs have arrived. Under first-time head coach Carla MacLeod, they won their first medal in IIHF history – bronze – with a 4-2 victory over Switzerland on Sunday. But that wasn’t all.
In their fourth all-time Women’s Worlds try versus Finland, the Czechs finally ended their losing streak with top-scoring defender Daniela Pejsova’s 2-1 quarter-final winner in overtime.
Putting two players on the tournament all-star team – Pejsova (5+4=9) and starting goalie Klara Peslarova (1.83 GAA, 91.3 save percentage) – also broke new ground.
The Czechs have a youth movement to be proud of. Natalie Mlynkova, 21, notched two of her team-leading six goals in the bronze medal game. Fellow attacker Adela Sapovalivova – just 16 and less than three months away from her U18 Women’s Worlds all-star team berth – was a gritty and meaningful contributor as a senior team rookie (3+1=4).
Admittedly, it was heartbreaking for the Danes to get relegated on home ice with a 3-2 loss to Germany in their round-robin finale. Yet for the small Nordic nation that made its Olympic debut this year in Beijing, there were good takeaways from hosting the Women’s Worlds for the first time ever.
Denmark secured its first Women’s Worlds win in history, blanking Hungary 1-0 on Julia Ostergaard’s third-period goal and Lisa Jensen’s 45-save shutout. That was sweet revenge after falling 5-1 to Hungary the year before in Calgary.
Remarkably, Jensen and fellow netminder Cassandra Repstock-Romme also combined for the tournament’s second-best save percentage (92.4 percent) after the U.S. goalies (92.47 percent).
For Finnish fans, it’s tough to put a positive spin on this tournament. Finland’s sixth-place finish was its all-time Women’s Worlds worst, ending an IIHF medal streak during which it had earned one silver (2019 WW) and four bronzes (2017 WW, 2018 OG, 2021 WW, 2022 OG).
Struggling to convert offensively, the Finns had 19 goals on 264 shots. Suomi lost 1-0 to the Japanese in the fifth-place game despite outshooting them 61-17. Suspensions for dangerous hits by Petra Nieminen and Ronja Savolainen bookended the tumultuous journey in Denmark.
And yet, there were a few positives.
Captain Jenni Hiirikoski wasn’t pleased about giving the puck away on Czechia’s sudden-death quarter-final winner, but the most decorated blueliner in IIHF women’s history added another feather in her cap by playing in her record 14th Women’s Worlds and 82nd game at age 35. Leading scorer Elisa Holopainen, 20, had her much-anticipated breakout (4+2=6), giving Finland a legitimate second-line threat.
The downside for the Germans was their continued decline in the standings. After peaking with fourth place in 2017, they’ve come seventh (2019), eighth (2021), and now ninth in Frederikshavn.
Nonetheless, coach Thomas Schadler’s team went home feeling proud of the extraordinary resilience they showed to come back and beat Denmark 3-2. Veteran Tanja Eisenschmid, who led Germany in scoring (4+2=6), scored the go-ahead goal through traffic with just one second left in regulation.
Surprisingly, the Germans also had the second-best power play percentage at these Women’s Worlds (38.4 percent, 5-for-13). Their first goal versus the Danes was courtesy of forward Franziska Feldmeier with the woman advantage.
Hungary has come further in one year than moving up from ninth place (2021) to eighth place (2022) might indicate.
The Germans were definitely Hungary’s favourite opposing team here. Not only did coach Pat Cortina’s squad open the tournament by topping Germany 4-2, but the German win over Denmark enabled Hungary to squeak out its first quarter-final berth ever.
Taking a point from Sweden in a 3-2 shootout loss and taking Finland to overtime before falling 3-2 in a placement game were other points of pride for the Magyars.
Fun fact: 20 percent of the team’s 10 goals were scored by a 16-year-old. Regina Metzler, already in her second Women’s Worlds, lit the red lamp against both the Americans and the Finns. That’s a great sign for the Budapest-trained forward’s future.
If coach Yuji Iizuka’s main message to Team Japan early in the tournament was, “It gets better, I promise,” that would make total sense. In its maiden voyage in Group A, Japan dropped its first four games by an aggregate of 31-4. It then suffered a tough 2-1 quarter-final shootout loss to Switzerland.
However, Japan’s remaining games proved that the smallest players aren’t necessarily short on heart or talent. Forward Remy Koyama – who stands just 147 cm and 52 kg – had the winning goal in both the 5-4 comeback victory over Sweden and the 1-0 shootout win versus Finland. In the latter matchup, goalie Miyuu Masuhara – clocking in at 152 cm and 50 kg – delivered a 61-save shutout.
Meanwhile, the team’s top attackers finished with personal single-tournament highs in points, including Haruka Toko (2+4=6) and Akane Shiga (3+2=5).
Do you believe that absence makes the heart grow fonder? If so, Sweden’s return to the top division for the first time since 2019 was a win in itself, regardless of the circumstances.
Also, in the Damkronorna’s first quarter-final since 2017, Canada won 3-0. But Canada’s margin of victory was the same as over Group A medal contenders Finland and Switzerland, who both lost 4-1 to the defending champs. And goalie Emma Soderberg shone with 54 saves.
Granted, the Swedes are likely still a few years away from fighting for a medal again. But when you consider that they kicked off this tournament with a three-game win streak, you can see the potential. At 23, team scoring leader Hanna Olsson (5+3=8) still has room to grow. Ditto for the remarkable two-way defender Mira Jungaker (1+4=5), who is just 17.
It’s hard to evaluate this Swiss team fairly. For the second straight Women’s Worlds, they played most games without 2018 Olympic scoring leader Alina Muller, this time due to COVID-19 issues. Captain Lara Stalder, Laura Zimmermann, and Noemi Rhyner were other Swiss skaters who couldn’t play the full seven games for health reasons.
Even though coach Colin Muller’s squad didn’t fulfill its bronze-medal hopes against the Czechs, it deserves credit for surviving a potential quarter-final challenge from the Japanese. Defender Lara Christen, who was targeted by the Canadians in an 8-1 semi-final loss, played a whopping 31:39 in the quarter-final, and the 19-year-old will only get better.
Finally, although it isn’t reflected in the medal count, this is the most successful era in Swiss women’s hockey in terms of consistency. Never before has Switzerland earned top-five placements in three consecutive Women’s Worlds (fifth in 2019, fourth in 2021 and 2022). The streak is even longer if you include the 2018 Olympics (fifth) and 2022 Olympics (fourth).
From Day One, the Americans were the best team at this tournament, only falling short in the gold medal game. Under new coach John Wroblewski, they looked revitalized, staging multiple assaults on the record books. Team-wise, their 53 total goals were second only to Canada’s 1990 Women’s Worlds total (61).
Hilary Knight became the all-time leading Women’s Worlds scorer in the 12-1 quarter-final romp over Hungary. She will likely remain unchallenged for years (53+36=89). Captain Kendall Coyne Schofield became the all-time leading assist-getter (41 assists) in a U.S. uniform.
And how about the remarkable youth movement headlined by MVP Taylor Heise? As a Women’s Worlds rookie, the 2022 Patty Kazmaier Award winner led this tournament with 18 points, the second-highest total in history after the U.S.’s Cindy Curley (23) in 1990. Heise and fellow tournament all-star Amanda Kessel showed magical chemistry, both tying the single-game assists record (5) on different occasions.
Up and down the roster, from defenders Caroline Harvey (5+3=8) and Jincy Dunne (2+4=6) to forwards Hannah Bilka (5+7=12) and Abby Roque (5+3=8), we saw world-class performances from young players who could take it to new, golden heights come April.