Hello, people. Kate and I are not dead, just resting for the NHL playoffs, so that we can fill your lives with women’s hockey when you’re no longer rooting for the Blackhawks to repeat. Which of course you are. Who else would you be rooting for, the Wild? We’ve got plenty of interesting analysis in the pipeline, though. We even EMAILED people for it!
In one of the few recent tidbits of women’s hockey news, Team Canada named 104 women to their strength & training camp this year, as per their press release here. Forwards Cayley Mercer and Shannon MacAulay, from NCAA Championship winning Clarkson, were invited for the National Women’s Development Team; Mercer had 22 points with Clarkson and MacAulay had 24 points. Other notable selections (from teams we care about) are Erin Ambrose (a top-10 finalist for the Patty Kaz), Sarah Lefort (ditto), and Emerance Maschmeyer (also a finalist, damn it Canada).
One of the reasons Team Canada is so formidable is that they have a much more regular pattern of training. The US does intensive training the year of/before the Olympics, and has consistent youth programs, competitions, etc., but Team Canada has a wider pool of participants to draw from and tends to hold more camps with more people– which further widens their development pool. Of course, both USA Hockey and Hockey Canada invest more in training women’s teams than other countries, which tends to be why they’re so much more dominant. Ah, a day when Team Finland holds massive, 100+-person camps for their women’s players.
So, it’s that wonderful time of year again – time for the IIHF Women’s Worlds! This year will be different, since it’s an Olympic year. Rather than the top teams playing, teams that did not participate in the Olympics will be competing. “Ugh that’s so lame,” you may be saying. “Why?” Well, because – according to the IIHF – having Women’s Worlds in Olympic years, between non-Olympic participants, strengthens the competitiveness of the women’s game. Since there use to be no WW during Olympic years at all, you’ve got to assume there’s also a funding aspect contributing to why Hockey Canada, USA Hockey, et al aren’t participating. But cynicism aside, it’s always fun to watch developing teams who could go on to be contenders eventually.
The Division I games will be held in Pferov, Czech Republic, and Ventspils, Latvia. Information on Group A, including the teams and schedule, is here. Information on Group B is here. Information on Division II Group A is here and Group B is here. They’ll be played in Asiago, Italy, and Reykjavik, Iceland, respectively.
Hockey Wilderness has some info about this year’s tournament here. The biggest thing to take away from this year’s Women’s Worlds is that the winner will play a best of three series in the 2015 Women’s Worlds with the last-placed team from this year’s Olympics (also known as everyone’s favorite smiley team, Team Japan).
It looks like there won’t be anywhere to watch this year’s championships, but we’ll be reporting on results as they happen. The tournament begins April 6th, and runs through April 12th.