Women’s Worlds Facts, Stats, Records
by Andrew PODNIEKS|29 MAR 2024
(L-R) USA’s Amanda Kessel #28, Hilary Knight #21 holding the championship trophy and Kelly Pannek #12 pose for a group photo with teammates after a 6-3 Gold Medal Game win against Canada at the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship at CAA Centre on April 16, 2023 in Brampton, Ontario.
photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation / Andrea Cardin
The best female hockey players in the world are descending on Utica, New York, in preparation for the Women’s World Championship, so before the fun begins let’s look at the numbers, the records, and the players who might make history in the next two weeks.
This is the 23rd Women’s Worlds since the inaugural event in 1990 and the fifth time it has been hosted by the United States. Canada has won gold three of the four previous times, but the most recent hosting, in Plymouth in 2017, was won by the hosts on a Hilary Knight overtime goal.
The two North American teams have made it to the final game every year except 2019, when Finland replaced Canada as silver medallists.
Denmark earned promotion from Division I-A last year and will be playing at the top level for only the fourth time. Recall they missed the playoffs by 0.1 second when they hosted two years ago.
Joining the Danes will be China, which finished first in I-A last year to move up as well. This was a major victory for the Chinese as they will be making their first top-level appearance since 2009.
When the Swiss take the ice on opening day against the U.S. they will be playing in their 100th all time WW game. And if Canada can win its first game the next day against Finland, it will mark 100 wins at the WW since 1990. The Americans also have 99 all-time wins, so if they get past Switzerland, they’ll reach the century mark a day earlier than their rivals.
No team has scored more goals in WW play than the Americans. They have 758 in 118 games, well ahead of Canada (700, also in 118 games). Canada continues to hold the edge in gold medals, though, 12-10.
Finland’s brilliant defender Jenni Hiirikoski is expected to extend her record for Women’s Worlds events. This will be her 16th tournamnent, and her 10th as captain, also a record. And there’s a third record, for most games played. She stands at 89, way ahead of Karoliina Rantamaki (69), and every time she steps on the ice for a game Hiirikoski extends her own record.
Over the last few years, however, the name most synonymous with records is Hilary Knight, and she will be centre stage once again. She currently has nine gold medals, tied with Danielle Goyette (CAN) atop the all-time list. A gold at home would send her to double digits, but even if she wins silver or bronze she’ll also pass Hayley Wickenheiser, tied for most medals all time with 13. Canada’s captain, Marie-Philip Poulin, has eleven career medals and can move up the list with another podium finish in Utica as well.
And like Hiirikoski, Knight has two records she can improve on every time she scores. She is the WW all-time points leader with 101 and all-time goalscoring leader with 61, so every goal she is a part of she just adds to numbers that are already impossibly better than those behind her.
Knight’s expected teammate, Kendall Coyne Schofield, is also well within striking distance of another record. She is currently fourth all time with 41 assists, but Wickenheiser, tops with 49, is certainly reachable with a good run for the American. Coyne Schofield’s best tournament for assists was in 2017, when she had seven, so if she doesn’t catch “Wick” this year, it might have to wait til 2025.
And then there’s one record Lara Stalder of Switzerland does NOT want to beat. She is second all time with 69 penalty minutes, behind only Yekaterina Smolentseva (RUS, 77), so with four minors this year Stalder’s name will be at the top.
Behind the bench, Canada’s Troy Ryan can make history of his own. Currently he has 19 wins as head coach, second only to American Ben Smith, who has 24. But with a good run in Utica, Ryan can move to the top of this distinguished list.