Hilary Knight wins the inaugural IIHF Female Player of the Year Award
by Andrew PODNIEKS|01 JUN 2023
USA’s Hilary Knight #21 hoisting the championship trophy while teammates look on 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 / Matt Zambonin
Team USA forward Hilary Knight has been voted the IIHF Female Player of the Year for the 2022-23 season. She received 40.9% of the total votes and was the clear and favored winner. Second in the voting was teammate Caroline Harvey, with 18.2%, followed by teen sensation Nela Lopusanova of Slovakia, with 13.6%. Fourth was Finnish captain Jenni Hiirikoski with 11.3%, followed by Sarah Filler (CAN, 9.1%), Emma Soderberg (SWE, 4.5%), and Marie-Philip Poulin (CAN, 2.3%).
“I am honored to be the first recipient of such a prestigious award,” Knight said last night when informed of the results by IIHF President Luc Tardif. “There are many talented women at this level, and it is a privilege to be recognized as the IIHF Female Player of the Year.”
The voting was conducted by members of the media representing 16 countries as well as the appropriate IIHF Family. This is the inaugural year for the trophy. The IIHF Male Player of the Year will be revealed later in the month.
Knight, 33, had an exceptional year, culminating with a gold medal at the 2023 IIHF Women’s World Championship in Brampton in April. In that tournament, she led all players with eight goals, three of which came in the game for Gold against Canada. The second of those three was the game winner, marking the third time she has scored the game-winning goal at an IIHF Women’s Worlds gold game (2011, 2017), an unprecedented achievement. It was also the fifth time she has led an IIHF Women’s Worlds in goals, another feat unmatched in the history of the tournament.
Knight continues: “Reflecting on this year it’s hard to pinpoint one highlight, rather a collection of memories shared with my teammates. I am grateful to be a part of such an incredible group and share these special moments with my friends.”
Knight finished the 2023 IIHF Women’s World Championship with 12 points, which gives her 101 points for her career at the IIHF WW. She is the only woman to reach the 100-point plateau, and her gold medal also brought her into an elite company. She now has nine career golds, tying her with Danielle Goyette (CAN) for most in a career, and 13 total IIHF WW medals, tied now with Hayley Wickenheiser (CAN) for most. In addition, Knight extended her records for most career goals (now 61) and points (101).
A native of California, Knight has now played in 13 IIHF Women’s Worlds tournaments, the first coming in 2007 when she was the youngest player on the team, as well as four Olympic Winter Games (one gold, three silver). She has been named tournament MVP twice, in 2015 and again the next year, and to the All-Star Team four times (2011, 2015, 2016, 2019).
The IIHF Female Player of the Year award will be given annually to a player who “best exemplifies exceptional skill, determination, team success, and sporting character on and off the ice during the preceding season.” According to the IIHF criteria for the award, candidates must have competed in at least one IIHF tournament (Olympics, Women’s World Championship, Women’s U18 World Championship) as well as in a domestic league of the highest caliber for that country, the combined performances of which were deemed superior to all other players.”
“The sport and the women who play it deserve the largest stage and biggest spotlight,” Knight adds. “My hope is that the sport continues to grow and reach greater heights. Although hockey is a team sport, having awards and accolades that acknowledge accomplishments help drive more visibility. Thank you, IIHF, for creating this award, as it is important to recognize outstanding athletic performances.”
In addition to the IIHF Women’s Worlds, Knight played for the PWHPA on Team Sonnet, recording 10 points in 18 games during the season-long Dream Gap Tour. Sonnet lost in the semi-finals of the PWHPA’s playoff weekend in FivePoint Arena, training center of the Anaheim Ducks. Over her career, however, Knight has won both the Clarkson Cup (twice) and Isobel Cup. The former victories came with the Boston Blades in 2013 and 2015, and the latter with the Boston Pride in 2016.
Female player Of The Year