As the city of Ottawa prepares to host the IIHF Women’s Worlds for the second time (it also hosted the first-ever event in 1990), all eight competing countries offer sensational stars that have the potential to provide remarkable hockey heroics.
After the classic gold-medal match from the 2012 Worlds (Canada fought back from a 4-3 deficit to win in overtime against Team USA, 5-4), expectations are high among fans that Ottawa will set the stage for another classic clash.
With Canada having never lost an IIHF Women’s Worlds on home soil, the stakes are very high for the defending world champions. Caroline Ouellette and Meghan Agosta will be counted upon to make things happen, while young stars like Natalie Spooner and Brianne Jenner comprise the next generation of Canadian stars.
During a 2012-13 season that saw Megan Bozek and Amanda Kessel help the Minnesota Golden Gophers to an undefeated season, they are hoping the momentum will carry over to the United States team. A gold medal would give the United States great confidence heading into the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.
Many players from Europe are hoping to propel their nations onto the medal podium. The Czech Republic is competing in the IIHF Women’s Worlds for the first time. With a roster that features NCAA stars (Lucie Povova, Alena Polenska) and the first European to win the Clarkson Cup (Katerina Mrazova), they are looking for a positive first impression.
Switzerland and Finland continue to be medal threats as their clubs boast the finest women’s goaltenders in the world: Florence Schelling (Switzerland) and Noora Raty (Finland). The German squad also features a top-notch goaltender in Jenny Harss, while Sara Seiler is representing her homeland of Germany in her adopted hometown of Ottawa.
Having won a silver medal at the 2006 Torino Winter Games, Sweden is capable of upsets. With Elin Holmlov, Danijela Rundqvist and Pernilla Winberg headlining the offensive attack, this titanic trio is highly skilled.
With Russia hosting the 2014 Winter Games, the squad is hoping for a positive showing in Ottawa. The proud Russians are aiming to finish on the medal podium at Sochi, and the 2013 IIHF Worlds will be the litmus test to gauge their capabilities.
Though the 2013 edition of the Worlds features remarkable subplots and ambitious nations looking to compete with the likes of Canada and the United States, the real aspect to remember is that the event is a celebration of the game.