Top-10 stories of 2021/22
by Andrew Podnieks|24 JUL 2022
Fans celebrate the Finnish team in Tampere after the Olympic champions had also won World Championship gold on home ice.
photo: FIHA
The 2021/22 hockey season was long, thrilling, complicated, and anything but a straight line. There were great goals and big wins, disappointments and controversy and determination. Herewith we look back at the highlights and the biggest stories of a season now in the history books.

Finland’s double

The Finns won World Championship gold in 2019 with an unheralded roster under coach Jukka Jalonen. They lost to Canada in the 2021 gold medal game, but early in 2022 they won Olympic gold for the first time after beating ROC, 2-1, in the final game. A few months later, they exacted revenge on Canada at the World Championship on home ice and became only the second country after Sweden in 2006 to win the toughest and most prestigious double gold in IIHF play. That win in Tampere was highlighted by Sakari Mannine’s power-play goal in overtime. Incredibly, some 17 players were on both rosters.


At the very height of her powers, 31-year-old Marie-Philip Poulin had a season to remember. Last August she scored the golden goal in OT against the Americans to give Canada its first World Women’s championship since 2012. Then, this past February, she again scored the winner in a tense 3-2 regulation win over the U.S. She also has Olympic winning goals on her resume from 2010 and 2014. Remarkable. And just last month, the Montreal Canadiens hired her as a player development consultant. 
Marie-Philip Poulin celebrates with her gold medal.
photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images

Jessica Campbell

After scoring the golden goal for Canada at the 2010 WW18, Campbell more or less disappeared from the Hockey Canada landscape. But she always saw skating as her strength and people skills as her metier, and she has been climbing the coaching ranks ever since. She made “herstory” at the World Championship in Finland a couple of months ago appearing on the roster sheet of Germany as an assistant coach under Toni Soderholm, becoming the first woman to have a behind-the-bench role in the men’s pre-eminent tournament after she had written history in the DEL. Soon after, Campbell was hired as an assistant coach for the Coachella Valley Firebirds, the AHL affiliate of the Seattle Kraken.
Jessica Campbell behind the bench of the German men’s national team during the 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.
photo: Andrea Cardin / HHOF-IIHF Images

Slafkovsky shines

The 17-year-old Juraj Slafkovsky was added to Slovakia’s 2022 Olympic team by coach Craig Ramsay to give the youngster some experience. The kid was having none of that bit role and decided to dominate. Ramsay gave him the ice time, and by the end of the tournament the teen led the Games in goals with seven and was named tournament MVP. Three months later, he again impressed at the World Championship and leading Slovakia in scoring with nine points in eight games. His outstanding IIHF performances led to being selected first overall by Montreal at the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. His is a bright future, indeed.
Young Slovak players Juraj Slafkovsky and Samuel Knazko are all smile after winning Olympic bronze.
photo: Andrea Cardin / HHOF-IIHF Images

World Juniors moved to summer

With the good comes bad, and one of the toughest days in IIHF history occurred on 29 December 2021, when IIHF President Luc Tardif was forced to cancel the World Junior Championship in Edmonton because of a concerning rise in case count of omicron, the treacherous variant of Covid-19 that had taken the world – and players from several teams – quickly back into isolation. The problems started a day earlier when the U.S. had to forfeit its game against Switzerland, and after two more forfeits a day later, Tardif could see no other option. Safety of players and personnel was paramount, but Tardif vowed to play this event and all others cancelled, a word he is keeping in early August with the re-playing of the World Juniors. Also other events including the U18 Women’s Worlds where Madison, USA jumped in for Sweden have been played later or are scheduled to be played soon.
Last winter the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship had to be cancelled. The tournament will be played in August.
photo: Matt Zambonin / HHOF-IIHF Images

Tardif enters to multiple challenges

Tardif was named new IIHF President last September, replacing Rene Fasel after 27 years after several rounds of elections, which would be a remarkable story in itself. But starting the new role, Tardif encountered an unprecedented run of challenges that required every fibre of his leadership with Covid-19 still causing trouble during the hockey season, special circumstances for the Olympics and the invasion of Ukraine. Nevertheless, the federation has fought through the struggles, hired a respected man in Matti Nurminen as the new General Secretary, and manages to play all cancelled events from the winter. Indeed, the summer of 2022 is busier than the past traditional hockey season, thanks to Covid (to the bad) and Tardif’s resolve in re-scheduling every event (to the good).
Luc Tardif reacts after being elected new IIHF President by the 2021 IIHF Semi-Annual Congress.
photo: Christina Korovnikova

Lekkerimaki plays up

The year 2022 is not yet seven months old, but already Swede Jonathan Lekkerimaki has had a year to remember. He led the U18 in scoring with five goals and 15 points, and he led Sweden to the gold medal, scoring once and adding three assists in a 6-4 upset over the United States in the final game. In July, he was selected 15th overall by Vancouver at the NHL draft. Like Slafkovsky, up is the only direction he’s looking right now.
Sweden’s Jonathan Lekkerimaki celebrates with Noah Ostlund at the 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship.
photo: Matt Zambonin / HHOF-IIHF Images

Ambuhl’s record

It’s easy to say records are meant to be broken – but it’s a lot more difficult to be the one to break them! And World Championship records don’t get much tougher than the one for most games played. It requires skill and longevity and success rolled into one. But this past May, Switzerland’s Andres Ambuhl played in his career 120th World Championship game, one more than previous record holder Udo Kiessling for West Germany, who retired in 1991. It took Ambuhl 17 tournaments to get to 120, and he finished with a total of 123. It will be a very long time before anyone eclipses this mark.
L-R: Swiss national team forward Andres Ambuhl get honoured for his record by IIHF President Luc Tardif, SIHF President Michael Rindlisbacher and IIHF Senior Vice-President Petr Briza.
photo: Andrea Cardin / HHOF-IIHF Images

Knight’s goals

And speaking of tough records to beat, what about Hilary Knight? She became the all-time goalscorer in Women’s World Championship history last August and now has 47 career goals, three more than Cammi Granato. Knight should be in the lineup for USA next month in Denmark, and every time she scores she will add to a record tally that, like Ambuhl’s, will last a very long time.
Team USA’s Hilary Knight celebrates a goal at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games with Kendall Coyne Schofield.
photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images

Women with whistles

A collective shout out must go to female on-ice officials. Throughout the 2021/22 season, it seemed there was a new story on “first woman to” on a regular basis. Alex Clarke was the first woman to line a WHL game last September. Katie Guay became the first woman to referee an AHL game in October. Kirsten Welsh became the first woman to work the lines of an OHL game in November. And just this past March, after returning from working the Olympics, Elizabeth Mantha became the first woman to referee a QMJHL game. More “herstory,” more inspiration, more inclusion. Makes more sense.
Referee Katie Guay in her first game in the American Hockey League.
photo: Ralph Francello / WBS Penguins