St. Martin relishes U.S. triumph
by Lucas AYKROYD|26 JAN 2024
The U.S.'s Josie St. Martin (centre, "A") sings the anthem after winning the gold medal at the 2024 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women's World Championship.
photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation / Andrea Cardin
Josie St. Martin’s hometown of Stillwater, Minnesota is about an hour’s drive from the Valleyfair amusement park. The park’s most daunting ride is Wild Thing, a roller coaster featuring a 63-metre-high hill and a maximum speed of 120 kilometres an hour.

The personable 17-year-old U.S. assistant captain has endured comparable highs and lows on her journey to becoming an IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship gold medalist. When St. Martin was interviewed alongside captain Maggie Scannell after the 5-1 U.S gold-medal win over Czechia on 14 January, she was a little giddy. And why not?

“It’s so surreal,” said St. Martin, who joined Czechia’s Adela Sapovalivova and Finland’s Emma Ekoluoma as an all-star forward. “It’s a dream come true to be world champions. We’ve been dreaming of this moment ever since our first year on this team together. An amazing, amazing feeling.”

“We’re both just so grateful for this opportunity, all three of our years,” added Scannell.
Indeed, after also playing U18 Women’s Worlds in 2022 and 2023, this duo now owns the complete range of U18 medals.

As first-timers, they looked poised to cruise to gold after their stacked team – including MVP Laila Edwards, Tessa Janecke, and Kirsten Simms – crushed Canada 7-0 in the round-robin. But St. Martin and Scannell sadly settled for the silver medal on home ice at the University of Wisconsin after a hard-fought 3-2 loss to the Canadians in the final.

In 2023, a semi-final against host Sweden appeared to pose no problem – until the Swedes stunned the U.S. 2-1, marking their first win in 16 head-to-head meetings. The Americans claimed the bronze medals in Ostersund after rebounding to blank Finland 5-0.

So to take home gold from Zug, Switzerland – a famous tax haven, incidentally – was a feeling that even a brimming bank account couldn’t evoke. The gold medal drought dating back to 2020 was over, and just in time. St. Martin is one of 11 Americans who will never wear the U18 uniform again.

“I would just say you learn from the games you lose,” St. Martin said. “It really motivated me, Maggie and all the other returners from last year. We kind of put our heads down and got to work over this last year. I personally thought about it probably every day leading up to this tournament. “
The 163-cm, 70-kg attacker stepped up offensively in Zug, finishing fourth in goals (six) and seventh in the overall scoring race (nine points). She delivered at key times, scoring twice in both the 4-0 quarter-final win over Germany and the 4-2 semi-final victory over Finland. It was a big leap forward for the Stillwater High School product, who was limited to two goals in 2022 and two assists in 2023.

Yet scoring statistics alone don’t capture her full impact on the team.

“I call her a 200-foot spark,” said coach Liz Keady Norton. “I think her biggest play [in the semi-final] might have been that blocked shot at the end. You talk about a player who brings some good bench energy and is reliable and trustworthy in all situations, that’s Josie St. Martin.”

Forward Haley Box, when asked to choose a skill that she’d love to acquire from a teammate, said: “Josie St. Martin’s enthusiasm in the locker room. I don’t know if that’s a skill, but she gets our team hyped. So when we’re going out on the ice, with Josie, like, you’re ready!”

That enthusiasm is easy for spectators to pick up on as well when they see St. Martin and Scannell enjoying their pre-puck drop handshake ritual.

“I’m just really big about controlling what I can and bringing the best energy I have for all of the games,” St. Martin explained. “So I like to fire my teammates up and get loud before the game. It’s one of the things I love most about sports and hockey in general. I love to bring energy and be loud, even kind of obnoxious sometimes!”

Yet while that outgoing nature makes her a memorable character in the women’s game, she never neglects to compliment her fellow U.S. leaders.

“Maggie has been a great captain, and she’s always hard-working. And then look at [assistant captain] Bella Fanale. Too bad she missed the first couple games, but just having her back brings so much more to the team. With her energy and relentlessness, she’s one of the hardest-working people I've ever met.”
St. Martin, an Ohio State commit, is eager to bring her energy to NCAA hockey. In 2024-25, she and U.S. linemate Jordyn Petrie will team up with star Swedish defender Mira Jungaker on the Buckeyes. More former Swedish rivals will join them in 2025-26, including Hilda Svensson and Jenna Raunio.

Making the U.S. team for the Women’s Worlds or Olympics can be another roller coaster ride. Even respected veterans such as Alex Carpenter, Hannah Brandt, and Jincy Roese (nee Dunne) have been on and off the roster in recent years.

So it’s wait-and-see on Josie St. Martin’s quest to go to the next IIHF level, but she’s sure to pursue her dreams with grit and personality to spare.