So much has happened in just three days at the 2007 IIHF World Women’s Championship. Some dreams have
already been fulfilled, while others have been dashed. Title contenders like Canada and the USA used their
opening two games to get their systems in order. Teams like Kazakhstan and Russia discovered how much work
they have left to do to close the gap. And it all happened in front of record-setting crowds
at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg and Selkirk Arena.
So here’s a little look back at some of the highs and lows. (And since we’re trying to be nice here at HockeyCanada.ca, we’ve gone heavy on the highs.)
Best overall individual player: Canadian captain Hayley Wickenheiser. Sure, “Wick” may not have been happy with the way she kept hitting posts in Canada’s opener versus Switzerland. But the 28-year-old power forward has led the host nation to two decisive wins in a row and accumulated a tournament-best eight points and +7 plus-minus rating. You can’t ask for much more than that.
Best young Canadian: Boy, this is tough. We’re going to call it a three-way tie between Meghan Agosta (20), Katie Weatherston (24), and Tessa Bonhomme (21). Agosta has been skating miles and racked up a tidy four assists and +6 rating. Weatherston’s heart is a lot bigger than her 5-2 stature, and she’s shown a willingness to go to the net and potting three goals. Bonhomme has yet to register a point in this tournament, but as a World Championship rookie blueliner, she’s shown superb poise, and has quietly matched Wickenheiser’s +7 rating.
Best young American: If anyone’s going to beat Cammi Granato’s all-time USA scoring records, it could well be 19-year-old phenom Sarah Parsons (although Natalie Darwitz has a headstart). Parsons bagged three goals and three assists in the Preliminary Round.
Best young European: As the Beatles once sang, “She was just seventeen/You know what I mean?” In the case of Finland’s starting netminder, Noora Raty, it means two straight shutouts versus Sweden and Russia. Incredible technique and coolness for the Espoo Blues product.
Best response to a pre-game ceremony: Wickenheiser again. “Thank you very much for that silver stick commemorating my hundred-plus goals with Team Canada. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go score a hat trick against Germany with a little help from my friend Danielle Goyette.” (No, she didn’t REALLY say that, but actions speak louder than words.)
Most surprising offensive outburst: At the 2005 IIHF World Women’s Championship in Sweden, the Chinese never scored more than three goals in any game. But pit them against Kazakhstan in Selkirk, and they bust out with a 7-0 walloping. Is the quality of Chinese cooking that much better in Selkirk than in Sweden, or what?
Biggest disappointment: Definitely the Germans. Zero goals and two losses, and now they’ll be fighting to stave off relegation instead of trying to match or surpass their back-to-back fifth-place finishes at the ’05 Worlds and ’06 Olympics. (OK, Kazakhstan’s not laughing either after surrendering 16 goals in two games.)
Best goaltending performance: Allowing seven goals might not sound like great goaltending, but when you’re facing 68 shots, many of them high-quality, from the defending Olympic champions, it’s a whole different story. Germany’s Viona Harrer gave her overmatched squad at least a hypothetical chance to get back into the game against Canada, with the score remaining 3-0 past the midway point of the second period. Harrer deserved the standing ovation she received from the MTS Centre crowd at the end of the game. (Honourable mention to 18-year-old Florence Schelling of Switzerland, who helped her team blank Germany after making some spectacular saves versus Canada.)
Happiest team: Hopp Schwitz! The Swiss were pumped after beating the Germans and ensuring their best finish since way back in 1990 (fifth). They poured out on to the ice as if they’d won a trophy at the final buzzer. (OK, they didn’t throw their gloves and sticks away, but they’re from Switzerland—way too neat and tidy for that!)
Best quote: “I will sleep the whole tournament with the puck on my pillow.” – Switzerland’s Kathrin Lehmann after scoring the 1-0 winner versus Germany