Home » A Women’s World Championship viewing guide: Can’t-miss games, players to watch and more

A Women’s World Championship viewing guide: Can’t-miss games, players to watch and more

A Women’s World Championship viewing guide: Can’t-miss games, players to watch and more

UTICA, N.Y. — The 2024 IIHF Women’s World Championship officially starts on Wednesday afternoon. It’s the first tournament since the historic launch of the PWHL and will feature dozens of the league’s stars and future draft eligibles.

Team USA is hoping to win back-to-back world championships, this time on home ice. Canada is trying to get back on top after losing to their rivals last year on Canadian soil. Czechia, Finland and Switzerland are expected to fight for a spot on the podium — and maybe even push off one of the North American teams.

Here’s everything you need to know about the tournament, from the top players you’ll see to the games you can’t afford to miss.


What do I need to know about each team?

United States: Team USA are the favorites heading into the tournament as the reigning champions and the host nation. The American roster is, frankly, a lot of fun with a mix of decorated veterans — like Hilary Knight, the all-time leading scorer in worlds history, Alex Carpenter and Kendall Coyne Schofield — and elite young players from the PWHL and NCAA. Caroline Harvey, 21, scored the most points by a defender at a single tournament last year and is already top-10 in all-time scoring among defenders. Nobody had more goals than Abbey Murphy with 33; Kirsten Simms led the NCAA in scoring (75); Joy Dunne, 18, scored the game-winning goal at the NCAA championship just over a week ago. The roster has eight players from the national championship game and is good enough to win now, but also sets up an intriguing core leading into the 2026 Olympics.

Canada: There are a lot of familiar faces on Canada’s roster with 20 players returning from last year’s world championship team. Marie-Philip Poulin, of course, headlines the group. She hasn’t played since a March 8 PWHL game, but she was a full participant in practice on Tuesday and is “available” to play, said coach Troy Ryan. If she misses any time for cautionary reasons, the team is balanced with veteran stars Brianne Jenner, Natalie Spooner — who leads the PWHL in scoring — Sarah Fillier — last year’s tournament MVP — and Sarah Nurse. Ann-Renée Desbiens is once again expected to be the starter. Since taking over Canada’s crease in 2021 she’s gone 19-1 at women’s worlds and the Olympics, only losing in last year’s gold medal game to Team USA. Cousins Nicole Gosling — who led Clarkson in scoring this year as a defender — and Julia Gosling — who was top-10 in points-per-game in the NCAA for St. Lawrence — will make their world championship debuts, and add an injection of youth to this veteran group.

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Czechia: The back-to-back bronze medalists return with a strong mix of veterans and young exciting players. Adéla Šapovalivová, 17, finished second in scoring at under-18 worlds in January, only behind Canadian star Chloe Primerano. While Tereza Plosová, 17, wasn’t far behind with nine points in six games en route to Czechia’s silver medal finish at the tournament. They’ll join professionals from the PWHL — such as Denisa Křížová, Kateřina Mrázová, and Aneta Tejralová – and the SDHL, like defender Daniela Pejšová and goalie Klára Peslarová.

Switzerland: This Swiss core — led by Alina Müller and Lara Stalder — has proven to be a top-five team in the world for the last decade, but just hasn’t been able to break through onto the podium at women’s worlds. Switzerland has lost in three straight bronze medal games — twice to Czechia and once to Finland — and has only won one medal at worlds, bronze in 2012. A big tournament by Müller, the third-overall pick in the PWHL Draft, could push Switzerland over the edge, but the depth of teams like Finland and Czechia could make it tough. Either way, Switzerland appears to be primed for another fight to the bronze medal game.


Jenni Hiirikoski, one of the best defenders of all time, features on a Finnish team contending for the podium. (Dennis Pajot / Getty Images)

Finland: Finland has been one of the most consistent medalists outside of Canada and the USA, but the team struggled at the last two world championships. The team was bumped from the top five and moved into Group B, and hasn’t won a medal since 2021. But they’re back in Group A this year, with a “renewed but experienced team,” said coach Juuso Toivola. Susanna Tapani and Michelle Karvinen are back on the roster for the first time since winning bronze at the 2022 Olympics, along with star forward Petra Nieminen and one of the best defenders of all time in Jenni Hiirikoski. Karvinen, a three-time Olympic medallist, is a huge boost to the roster. With her back on the team for the February Euro Hockey Tour games, Finland went 3-0-1, including a 6-1 win over Czechia, the team they’re hoping to push off the podium.

Sweden: Sweden looks like the favorite to win Group B this year, and could even push for promotion into the top-five placement at next year’s worlds. Hilda Svensson, Hanna Olsson and Lina Ljungblom — the top three scorers from last year’s tournament — are all returning. Olsson, 25, only played six games in the SDHL this year due to injury, but reported to Utica this week and is expected to play. Ljungblom, 22, is coming off an excellent season in the SDHL, where she finished third in scoring and won player of the year. While 22-year-old Josefin Bouveng could have a breakout tournament after scoring 19 goals and 50 points as a sophomore at University of Minnesota. Emma Söderberg, who gave Canada a scare in the quarterfinals last year, should be steady as the No. 1 goalie once again.

Japan: After a tough 2023 worlds in Group A — the team was outscored 24-6 — Japan is back in Group B this year. Akane Shiga will lead the way offensively with her elite skating ability, quick release and high hockey IQ. So will Haruka Toko, who had an excellent season in the SDHL and finished second in the league in assists (30) and sixth in points (43).

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Germany: Germany had a solid tournament last year, going 3-1 in pool play before losing to the United States (3-0) in the quarter-finals and to Finland (8-2) in the placement game to stay in Group B for another year. The goal this year will be to move up to Group A — a loftier goal — or to simply avoid relegation. Germany has Sandra Abstreiter in net — she backstopped three wins last year and posted a .928 save percentage. And 23-year-old Celina Haider, who led Germany in scoring last year.

China: China will be making its first appearance in the top division of women’s worlds since 2009, but will look a bit different without the dual passport players — like Hannah Miller (PWHL Toronto), Leah Lum (PWHL Montreal) and Tia Chan (University of Connecticut) — who helped the team gain promotion.

Denmark: Denmark played in the top division of women’s worlds in 2021 and 2022 and finished 10th both times. Avoiding relegation will be a challenge without captain Josefine Jakobsen, who was injured in February playing for Brynäs in the SDHL and retired from the national team in March, according to the Danish Ice Hockey Federation. Jakobsen was critical in the Danes gaining promotion and has led the team in scoring at nearly every tournament she’s played in since making her debut in 2007-08.


PWHL players at the tournament

New York

Alex Carpenter (USA)
Ella Shelton (Canada)
Jaime Bourbonnais (Canada)

Minnesota

Kendall Coyne Schofield (USA)
Taylor Heise (USA)
Kelly Pannek (USA)
Denisa Křížová (Czechia)
Nicole Hensley (USA)
Grace Zumwinkle (USA)

Boston

Hilary Knight (USA)
Megan Keller (USA)
Alina Müller (Switzerland)
Jamie Lee Rattray (Canada)
Susanna Tapani (Finland)
Emma Söderberg (Sweden)
Aerin Frankel (USA)

Ottawa

Brianne Jenner (Canada)
Emily Clark (Canada)
Kateřina Mrázová (Czechia)
Akane Shiga (Japan)
Savannah Harmon (USA)
Ashton Bell (Canada)
Hayley Scamurra (USA)
Tereza Vanišová (Czechia)
Aneta Tejralová (Czechia)
Emerance Maschmeyer (Canada)
Sandra Abstreiter (Germany)

Montreal

Marie-Philip Poulin (Canada)
Laura Stacey (Canada)
Erin Ambrose (Canada)
Kristin O’Neill (Canada)
Ann-Renée Desbiens (Canada)

Toronto

Natalie Spooner (Canada)
Sarah Nurse (Canada)
Blayre Turnbull (Canada)
Renata Fast (Canada)
Jocelyne Larocque (Canada)
Emma Maltais (Canada)
Kristen Campbell (Canada)


2024 PWHL draft-eligible watch list

(Only college players are included at this time)

Sarah Fillier, 23, Forward (Canada)

Fillier is as close to a consensus first-overall pick as we can get heading into the PWHL Draft. Since her world championship debut in 2021, Fillier has been a high-impact player for Team Canada, winning two world championships, a worlds MVP, and an Olympic gold medal. She is a gifted skater, with excellent puck skills and elite vision. At Princeton this year, Fillier worked on her shot and scored a career-high 30 goals in just 29 games. She also played half the season on the wing, in an attempt to round out her game. Now, at worlds, Fillier can slot in on the wing next to Marie-Philip Poulin, giving Canada the top-line combo it’s been looking for.

Cayla Barnes, 25, Defender (USA)

Barnes has been a stalwart on the USA blue line for seven years now — since her debut at the 2018 Olympics when she was just 19 years old. She is really smart with the puck and uses her elite vision of the ice to make key defensive plays and to transition the puck quickly out of the zone. With the Ohio State Buckeyes this season — Barnes transferred from Boston College to finish her college career — she made the key defensive play that led to the game-winning goal in the NCAA national championship game. Barnes was named a second-team All-American, and led the country with an astounding plus-71.

Danielle Serdachny, 22, Forward (Canada)

Serdachny set nearly every offensive record in the history of Colgate’s women’s hockey team with the most all-time points (239), goals (82), and assists (157). She scored at least 50 points in her final three years in the NCAA, including a 71-point season in 2022-23. Serdachny mostly played a depth role for Canada at last year’s world championship, but can make an impact as a secondary-scoring option in the bottom-six.

Hannah Bilka, 23, Forward (USA)

Bilka, like Barnes, is fresh off a national championship with Ohio State after transferring for her fifth year. She led the Buckeyes in scoring this season with a career-high 22 goals and 48 points in 39 games. She made her world championship debut in 2022 and was one of the breakout young players of the tournament, finishing third in Team USA and tournament scoring with 12 points in seven games. Bilka has a dynamic offensive ability from the blue line down. She’s very slippery with the puck and a creative playmaker.

Britta Curl, 24, Forward (USA)

Curl will leave the Wisconsin Badgers’ program as a three-time national champion. She was the captain of the team over the last two years and is coming off a career-high 62-point season. Curl is an effective 200-foot player who can take faceoffs, block shots and be relied on in all situations — she finished the NCAA season behind Barnes with a plus-55 rating.

Gwyneth Philips, 23, Goalie (USA)

Philips was one of the best goalies in the NCAA over the last three years. This season, she posted a .955 save percentage and 1.17 goals against average and was a top-10 finalist for the Patty Kazmaier. In 2022-23, she was named the national goalie of the year after posting a .87 goals against average and a .960 save percentage. Philips leaves Northeastern with a career .958 save percentage and .96 GAA, both NCAA records. She started Team USA’s pre-tournament exhibition game against Czechia, so it will be interesting to see if Philips steals some starts from another former Huskie in Aerin Frankel, USA’s presumed starter.


Must-watch games

(All times Eastern)

Wednesday, April 3

Denmark vs. Sweden at 11 a.m: The opening game of the tournament with one of the most exciting teams in Sweden.

Finland vs. Czechia at 3 p.m.: An early measuring-stick game between two teams expected to fight for a spot on the podium.

USA vs. Switzerland at 7 p.m.: The opening game for Team USA.

Thursday, April 4

Canada vs. Finland at 7 p.m.: The opening game for Team Canada.

Friday, April 5 

Canada vs. Switzerland at 3 p.m.

USA vs. Czechia at 7 p.m.: Another measuring stick for Czechia, to see if they can push for gold or silver.

Saturday, April 6 

USA vs. Finland at 7 p.m.

Sunday, April 7

Canada vs. Czechia at 3 p.m.

China vs. Denmark at 7 p.m.: A critical matchup between the two teams that gained promotion this year and will be trying to stick in the top division.

Monday, April 8

Switzerland vs. Finland at 3 p.m.: Both teams are expected to compete with Czechia for a bronze medal.

Canada vs. USA at 7 p.m.: The greatest rivalry in sport is back!

Tuesday, April 9
The final day of group play, with plenty of jostling for position expected in Groups A and B.

Germany vs. China at 11 a.m.

Czechia vs. Switzerland at 3 p.m.

Japan vs. Denmark at 7 p.m.

Thursday, April 11
Quarterfinals all day

Saturday, April 13

Semifinal 1 at 3 p.m.

Semifinal 2 and 7 p.m.

Sunday, April 14 

Bronze medal game at 1 p.m.

Gold medal game at 5 p.m.

All games will be broadcast on TSN in Canada and NHL Network in the U.S. 

(Photo of Team USA’s Hayley Scamurra skating against Canada during the gold medal game of the 2023 IIHF Women’s World Championship at CAA Centre on April 16, 2023 in Brampton, Ontario: Dennis Pajot / Getty Images)