The 2018 U18 Women’s World Championship was a huge success on and off the ice, with a Euro-record crowd, Europe’s first ever finalist and a host of new stars.

The 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship was a groundbreaking event for Europe. The gold medal game may not have fit the pattern, but the tournament as a whole showed how the Old World is reeling in the gap on North America both on and off the ice.

First up, the pieces of history: 22,653 fans came to the games in Dmitrov, the best ever attendance at any WW18 tournament played in Europe and the first time the average attendance at each game topped 1,000. The previous best, in 2012, saw 17,490 fans go to the games in Zlin / Petrova, Czech Republic; last year’s tournament at the same venue was only the second in Europe to break the 10,000 barrier.

On the ice, of course, those fans saw Sweden become the first European nation to make it to a gold-medal game in this competition, and only the second ever to play for gold in a major women’s international tournament. And Russia had something to celebrate as well after beating Canada’s girls for the first time ever.

The IIHF Directorate Awards were handed out after the gold-medal game and the prizes went to both finalists. Sweden’s goalie, Anna Amholt, was recognised for her brilliant form in backstopping her team’s silver run – prior to the final she had stopped more than 97% of the shots she faced. The best defender went to Gracie Ostertag of team USA, and American captain Taylor Heise was named best forward.

A separate All-Star team and MVP was selected by the media covering the 2018 tournament. Heise, who claimed her third gold medal in this event, was the MVP and formed a notional top line with team-mate Makenna Webster and Russia’s Ilona Markova. On defence, Canada’s Alexei Guay was joined by Maja Nylen Persson of Sweden. Amholt took the goaltending slot on this team as well.

For the second year running, Switzerland’s Lisa Ruedi was the leading scorer. She finished with 11 points, boosted by five goals in the relegation round showdown against Germany. Team-mate Rahel Enzler was second with 3+6=9 points. The top scorer among the Group A teams, not surprisingly, was an American. Makenna Webster had 2+7=9, and three more USA players tied on eight points – Britta Curl, Taylor Heise and Dominique Petrie.

The 2019 tournament, at a venue due to be determined during the IIHF Annual Congress in Copenhagen this May, will see Group A line up as it did this year, with USA, Canada, Sweden and Russia in the top pool. Germany is relegated to Division I-A, so Group B will feature Finland, Czech Republic, Switzerland and the winner of Sunday’s decisive Division I-A game between Slovakia and Japan in Asiago, Italy.

 



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