International Ice Hockey Federation



Championship returns after five years

Published 13.12.2016 16:26 GMT+1 | Author Organizing Committee
ST. CATHARINES, CANADA - JANUARY 14: Katerina Zechovska #30 and Kristyna Blahova #1 of the Czech Republic and look on during warm-up prior to placement round action against Finland at the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women's World Championship. (Photo by Jana Chytilova/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Five years after hosting a very successful tournament, the IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women's World Championship comes back to Prerov and Zlin.

On 7 January 2012, the Canadian U18 women's national team won the gold medal at Zlin's PSG Arena. On 7 January 2017, both cities will host the opening games of the 10th edition of the annual championship for female hockey players under the age of 18. As the host nation, the Czech Republic will look to build upon the tremendous success of five years ago.

The last time the two cities hosted, a new tournament attendance record was set. Fans in Prerov and Zlin came out in large numbers to see not only the host Czech team, but many other games as well. Overall, the 22 games were attended by a total of 17,480 spectators, with a single-game record of 3,250 watching the battle for fifth place between the Czechs and Finns. Although Finland won the game, the fans gave the young Czech players a 15-minute standing ovation after it was over.

That record stood until 2016, when the tournament hosted by St. Catharines in the Canadian province of Ontario shattered both records. Canada was hosting the U18 Women's World Championship for the first time since the inaugural tournament in Calgary in 2008, and hockey fans in the Niagara region came out in droves. The overall tournament attendance was nearly double that of Zlin and Prerov from 2012, with 5,516 fans coming out to watch the final game against the arch-rival USA.

This year, the Czech Republic aims not only for organizational success, but on-ice success as well. In that regard, there is still a lot of room to improve. Women's hockey is still a very young sport which continues to develop, and is expanding to other countries throughout the world.

Still worlds apart

In that first tournament in 2008, the United States beat Canada to win the gold medal, while the Czech Republic claimed bronze after a shootout win over Sweden. Since that time, the two North American teams have been dominant, as they have in all levels of women's hockey. At the U18 level they have met in the final each year, with the Americans winning five times and the Canadians four.

While European teams have closed the gap somewhat in terms of respectable results, they have until now been left to battle for bronze. After taking 3rd place that first year, the Czech U18 women repeated as bronze medallists in 2014 in Budapest, and have remained in the top division every year. Otherwise, the Swedes have captured bronze five times, with the Russians and Finns each taking 3rd place once.

This year’s tournament

The U18 Women's World Championship began in 2008 with eight participants, and that has remained unchanged to this year. But while the number of teams hasn’t changed since the first tournament, the format has. Group A includes the four best teams of last year’s tournament, with the first two qualifying directly to the semi-finals. In Group B, the two weakest teams will go head-to-head to remain in the top division. The four remaining teams will face off in the quarter-finals.

The group that includes the United States, Canada, Sweden and Russia will play in Zlin, while the group with the Czech Republic, Finland, Switzerland and Japan will play in Prerov, in the same arena that hosted the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Division I.

This year’s tournament kicks off on Saturday, 7 January with two games in each city. In Zlin, the USA plays Russia, followed by Canada vs. Sweden. In Prerov, the host Czechs take on Japan, with Switzerland will face Finland later. 

Each city will host one quarter-final and one semi-final game. The relegation series will take place in Prerov, while the gold medal game will be played in Zlin on Saturday, 14 January, exactly one week after the tournament starts.


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