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The Next Generation of Women’s Hockey

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With the Women’s IIHF U18 Tournament nearing its end, fans have seen many young players who have entered the spotlight and will hope to continue playing for their nation in the coming Women’s World Championship, which starts on August 25th. So what does the next generation of women’s hockey look like? Who are the up-and-coming players expected to take over for the likes of ‘Captain Canada’ Marie-Philip Poulin or America’s Hilary Knight?

While this article will primarily focus on players from the U18 tournament, there will be some players that are not able to play for their U18 teams that are mentioned.

Team Canada

The biggest name of the next generation of Women’s Hockey is one that every fan already knows, Sarah Fillier. Fillier has already won gold in the Olympics and World Championships with the Canadian Women’s Team. At just the age of 22, she has already been toted as the likely successor to the captainship of Team Canada and has already worn the captain’s ‘C’ for both her NCAA team at Princeton University and the Oakville Hornets of the PWHL. Overall Fillier is certainly a star to watch during the coming Women’s World Championship and years to come.

Claire Thompson is another big name for the Canadian Women’s team who was also captain of Princeton University in the first year that Fillier played with the team. Thompson has also managed to make a name for herself on the international stage as she has already made the 2021-22 Olympic Women’s All-Star Team, on top of having won gold alongside Fillier at both the World Championships and Olympics.

At the U18 Tournament currently going on the Canadians have had some noticeable players, despite having relatively low point generation stats. Goalie Mari Pietersen has been noticeable with the team, as she has managed to come third in the tournament in terms of save percentage, and goals-against average, as well as having managed a shutout in the tournament. All of which makes Pietersen an interesting player and one to keep an eye on for the future in terms of Canadian goalies. As well, fans can look forward to the further development of Canadian leading goalscorer Rhea Hicks who is projected to play for Syracuse University, come the start of next season.

Team United States of America

The United States has looked strong in the U18 Women’s World Championships with defensive player Sydney Morrow looking absolutely dominant in her puck-playing ability as she has managed seven assists thus far in the tournament. This performance comes after an 82-point run in the USHS for the Shattuck St.Mary’s Prep team, all of this coming from a defender is highly impressive, even performing above the levels of a lot of top-six defensive players.

Forward Laila Edwards has also been a top points producer in the tournament and has managed an impressive +4 in terms of +/- rating. The player has also helped to elevate fellow linemates Kirsten Simms and Tessa Janecke, which has seen the trio putting up a combined seven goals, and 18 points, which is impressive given they have only played three games as of writing this article.

In net, Annelies Bergmann has been absolutely strong, being the current top goalie of the U18 competition, managing to only have one goal on 46 shots on net, landing her a .50 goals-against average and a .978 save percentage. At just age 16 this young goalie could be the next rising star in net for the American side, and she has already shown that she has what it takes to perform on the international stage.

The Americans can also look forward to the strong performances of Caroline Harvey who has continually been a strong defensive player for the team, while also managing to win gold in the U18 World Junior Championship in 2019-20, as well as silver medals in the Olympics, World Championships, and the 2018-19 World Junior Championship. Harvey has continually looked to be one of the stronger defensive prospects of the women’s game and could make a large impact on the team in years to come.

Rest of the World

Czechia has been strong during this tournament thanks largely to goalie Michaela Hesova, who is currently ranked second in goalies in the tournament while managing two shutouts, a .96 save percentage, and a .79 goals-against average. As well, forwards Adela Sapovalivova, Tereza Pistekova, and Tereza Plosova have managed to be one of the top lines of the tournament, with all three players holding a +5 +/- rating or higher, as well as a combined 17 points. Finally, the Czech has had one of the top-performing defensive players in Andrea Trnkova who has managed to tie American Sydney Morrow for the top defensive player of the tournament in terms of +/-, despite only holding three points in the tournament.

The other team that has had some strong performances has been the Swedish team, who has goalie Lisa Jonsson to thank for the fact they have stayed competitive as she has faced the most shots on net of any goalie in the competition, with 114 shots on goal and 107 saves. While this places her as the fourth-ranked goalie in the tournament by most stats, it still lands her as an impressive goalie, especially considering she is only 17 and this is her first time ever playing on the international stage.

The Swedish team also can rely on defensive player Mina Waxin, who looked strong during Olympic qualifying, and has a lengthy list of accomplishments from playing the SDHL, including having the most goals scored by a defensive player, as well multiple silver medals with her team. Thanks to this added experience and continual play, Waxin can be expected to develop her game more readily, while also still being likely to make the Olympic and World Championship rosters.

The future of women’s hockey is strong, and now all that is needed is the platform to play the game they love to a broader audience, which would draw the well-deserved attention to these rising stars of the game in times other than the World Championship or Olympics.

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