2024 IIHF U18 Women's World Championship: Team Previews
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2024 IIHF U18 Women's World Championship: Team Previews

2024 IIHF U18 Women's World Championship: Team Previews by Nicole Haase

The 2024 IIHF U18 Women's World Championship is set to run from January 6-14, 2024 in Zug, Switerland.

This year's tournament features a different format. The groups are not weighted as they were in 2023. Instead, the teams are distributed among the two groups according to their finishes at the 2023 tournament. As a reminder, Canada won gold, Sweden won silver, and USA won bronze.

(Note: The tournament format has not been updated on the 2024 tournament site. This information is as correct as I can make it at the time of writing. I will update any changes as information becomes publicly available.)

Teams will play a round robin within their group. Quarterfinal matchups are determined by how teams finish within that group. That classification is determined by:

  1. points
  2. head-to-head points
  3. head-to-head goal difference
  4. head-to-head number of goals scored
  5. result against closest best-ranked team outside tied teams
  6. result against second-best-ranked team outside tied teams
  7. seeding before tournament.

Group A is Canada, Finland, Czechia and Germany.
Group B is Sweden, United States, Switzerland and Germany

Screenshot of the playoff bracket for the 2024 IIHF U18 Women's Worlds. 1A vs 4B, 1B vs 4A, 2A vs 3B, and 2B vs 3A are the quarterfinal round matchups. Teams will be re-seeded after the quarterfinals.

Interestingly, this change in format means the tournament lasts a day longer (nine total days) but there is only one off day scheduled (on 2023, there was an off day after the first two days of the opening round and again after the quarterfinals). The only four-game day in 2024 is for the quarterfinals.

Group A


I'm generally not prone to hyperbole, but it's really difficult to look at the Canada roster and not think they are absolutely going to run away with this tournament. After putting together a pretty dominant gold medal run in 2023, they've only gotten better. They return nine players from last tournament, including the tournament's leading goal-scorer, Caitlin Kraemer. Additions include one of the most hyped players in recent memory, Chloe Primerano; standout of the U18 National Championships, Sarah Manness; and goalie Rhyah Stewart, who led Nova Scotia to their first medal (silver) at the Canada Winter Games.

Primerano has been putting up unbelievable offensive numbers as a defender. Emma Venusio also has one of the hardest shots from the blueline that you'll see from a teenager. Not only is the roster deep, but there's a depth to the level of talent of the individual players. They play with poise, patience and hockey IQ beyond their years. It's seriously impressive and seriously scary for anyone who has to face them.

Tara Watchorn takes over as the head coach this year after serving as an assistant in 2023. She also took over as the head coach at Boston University this season after having a standout year at the helm of first-year NCAA program Stonehill.

Canada has to stay focused and not buy into their own hype. It does feel like the circumstances are ripe for a possible letdown. It looks like their tournament to lose, but a lot can happen in this short format and we've seen teams grow massively from their first to last game, including the 2022 Canada team. The tournament is somehow both the fastest and slowest nine day stretch coming straight out of the holidays and without a ton of pre-tournament time on ice together. A collection of brilliant players does not automatically ensure a spectacular team. The goal for Canada is to find their stride in the early games so that they are at their best in the elimination rounds.


The Finns have some work to do if they want to keep pace with the teams around them. They scored just seven goals last tournament – six of which came from Sanni Vanhanen and Pauliina Salonen, who are no longer on the team. They were the main drivers of the offense, not just scoring goals, but in transition and with movement within the offensive zone. They also played big roles on defense, getting back to block shots. The team will miss their experience and will be in search of people to step up. They return just five players last year's roster. However, they do return very strong goaltender Kerttu Kuja-Halkola. She kept them in several games in 2023 and will only have gotten stronger.

But they have to generate offense and that will not be easy against Canada and Czechia in particular. The Finns struggled in the Four Nations tournament that was a tune up for these World Championships, losing to Czechia and Sweden and needing overtime to take down Slovakia. Good goaltending may be enough to eke through one elimination round, but it's unlikely to take them further and they're going to be exhausted in the process.

In order to promote development and growth of the girls' game, Finland opened a program that combined high school and hockey, but less than half this roster is listed as playing for Team Kuotane. The rest play with clubs in the Finnish league. There's likely a debate over which provides better skill development, but one the reasons that team was created was so the team was playing together several months out of the year. If players aren't taking that route, there's a limit to how successful that path can be.


Coach Dušan Andrašovský has been pretty vocal (if Google translate is to be believed) in the lead up to this tournament about the struggles the team faces in terms of a lack of year round training and having a small number of games in which to watch the player pool and make a decision on the roster. Nine of their 12 forwards, plus two defenders and a goalie are playing outside of Czechia. Five are at North American prep schools; four are with SDHL teams; and three are playing in Finland. Across the pool of women's hockey players in Czechia, there has been a commitment to improve themselves and the national team by going elsewhere to develop in ways they cannot at home. It's crap that they have to do it, but also incredible that they've made that commitment.

The Czechs took second in the Four Nations tournament. They faced Sweden first and struggled a bit after being apart for so long, but took wins over Finland and Slovakia. There's so much experience on this roster, including Adéla Šapovalivová, who has played in two senior World Championships, and Tereza Plosová, who joined her in Brampton. Those two led the U18 team in scoring at the 2023 tournament and will get much of the attention, but keep an eye on Anežka Čabelová and Linda Vocetková. Overall, nine players were on the 2023 U18 roster.

The biggest question marks for this squad are in net, where three new goaltenders will look to stake a claim to the net that was mostly Michaela Hesová's over the past few years.


The Germans earned promotion after winning the Division I, Group A tournament in Italy in 2023. It's going to be a tough climb for them, but the goal will be to avoid being sent right back down. Much of that roster is still in tact, which helps not just with another year of playing and experience, but because they know the elation of promotion and will be extra motivated not to go through the devastation of relegation.

That Division I, Group A tournament was notoriously low scoring – it was an incredibly tight group of teams that had to scrap for every inch of ice. Only one German player scored more than once, but the good news is that they had eight different goal scorers, many of whom are on this roster. They aren't reliant on one line or a single player and that ability to be dangerous and matchup for several lines will be the key to them advancing. Miriam Siebert saw limited time in net in that tournament, but is the only returning goalie with experience. Their starter from the Group A tournament was absolutely lights out, allowing just one goal, so Siebert has big skates to fill.

As with Finland, there's a big opportunity here for players to really step up and take on bigger roles. The philosophy seems to hinge on putting pucks to the net, but their most prolific shooters have all aged out, so they need some of those younger players to have the confidence to shoot and know that if they miss, their teammates are going to get into the dirty areas to bury the rebound.

Group B


The Swedes won their first-ever silver in the U18 Women's World Championship in front of the home crowd in 2023. One big key for them was that much of that roster had played in the 2022 tournament. Well, this year, they are returning 11 women from the 2023 roster. It certainly seems that they are going to be a massive force again in 2024. The work their federation has done to focus on development of younger talent is finally paying off.

The biggest loss and change for Sweden will be in net. Felicia Frank was absolutely stunning last year, game after game. She not only kept them in games, but she gave her teammates the freedom to be more aggressive against the US and Canada and worry less about playing defense first. That was pivotal, and

Last year's team-leading scorer Hilda Svensson returns, as does Jenna Raunio, who suffered a concussion at least year's tournament and had months of recovery before recently returning to the ice. Ebba Hedqvist wasn't as much of a standout last tournament as I thought she might be, but that might be about my expectations, not her play. She did assist on the game-winning goal in the semifinal win over the US, and she was also the youngest player in Brampton last April when she played with the Sweden senior national team at the World Championships. There's been a massive opportunity for growth for her since Östersund, so we'll see how that translates in Zug.

United States

The Americans have a lot to prove this tournament. After a dominant start in 2022, they faded as the tournament carried on and lost in the semifinals to a Swedish team that they had thoroughly handled in the prelims. Last year, they failed to make it to the gold medal game for the first time in the tournament's existence and didn't look like a cohesive team on the ice until the final game. The players talked a lot about how close they were, but that did not translate on the ice. This year they return seven players, including Josie St. Martin and Maggie Scannell, who will be playing in their third U18 tournament.

This team looks really different and on the whole, is quite young. It had seemed as if there was a need for a fresh start with Team USA and we're getting it. Liz Keady Norton takes over as the head coach. The Dartmouth head coach has been able to make major strides in her short time there. It was a good time for a shakeup for the U18 squad, but I'm not sure that it will pay dividends this tournament. I definitely think the Americans can and will compete, but comparing the youth and inexperience of this squad to the maturity of Canada is certainly concerning. The positives of this roster might not be fully revealed until 2025.

Scannell was a leader last tournament, even without wearing the C and I think her willingness to be vocal on and off the ice is going to be crucial for this team. She's a big, strong forward who is difficult to move once she's planted herself on a piece of ice. The Americans also have a lot of size on defense and I think we'll see player like Rachel Gorbatenko and Rose Dwyer really using their long strides and reach to win the puck and immediately start in transition. On offense, Ava Thomas has shown a massive knack for scoring in high school and club play. The Americans' fortunes might hinge on how prolific she can be.


The world met Nela Lopušanová in Östersund when, at age 14, she lead the tournament in scoring with 12 points. Every single one of her nine goals were electric, but it was the Michigan lacrosse-style goal she scored against Czechia that made her a globally recognized name. Now a year older and having moved to the US to study at skate with the Bishop Kearney Selects program, she's only gotten better. Lopušanová is a natural talent with a massive hockey IQ and vision for the ice with the stick and puck handling skills many pros (of any gender) could only dream of – but her biggest asset might be her confidence. Few teenagers would even attempt the things she pulled off last tournament, much less do them successfully. A year at prep school will have refined some of that and probably toned her down a bit, but we should all hope that she never quite loses the audacity to try.

Nela showed she can carry her team quite a bit, but she's not the only reason Slovakia could finish in the top half of this tournament. They are returning 14 players from the 2023 roster. They were young and a little unpolished last year, but they come back with experience and maturity as well as a cohesion that everyone else is going to be struggling to create in the short span of the tournament. Goalie Livia Debnárová is also attending prep school in the US and after a solid showing in 2023, has faced higher competition and been able to hone her skills. Forward Michaela Sophia Paulínyová is at prep school in Canada.

This team has shown so much heart and growth in such a short amount of time. They've come such a long way and are poised to take another big step forward. There's so much opportunity for them here and not a lot to lose. I think they're going to be brilliantly fun to watch.


The Swiss had an up and down tournament in Sweden in 2023 and will look to find more consistency in their results. There were some flashes of brilliance, but on the whole they played a bit disconnected. At one point during the 2023 tournament there was a discussion about what would happen if Switzerland was relegated while having been awarded the 2024 tournament – the site would have had to move. It ended up not being an issue, but the story gives you an idea of how the week went for the Swiss.

At the senior level, the problem is a lack of depth that visibly frustrated the coaching staff. As you can imagine, that's a trickle down issue. Women's hockey in Switzerland has not followed the growth arc that it has in Sweden, Czechia and Finland. This tournament is incredibly crucial to bring the game to more households. It will do that just by happening in Switzerland, but it will be more effective if the team performs well. That's a lot of pressure on the players.

EVZ, the professional team in Zug, is new and several of these players are skating there. It's a good first step in the path toward building homegrown talent, but there's also a limit to how good the players can get without leaving Switzerland. Three members of this year's roster – Alena Lynn Rossel, Naemi Herzig and Ivana Maria Wey – played with the senior team in Brampton. Wey was one of the standouts in 2023 and she'll need to step up even more here now that Alessia Baechler has aged out. She brings an aggressiveness and nose for the goal that hopefully some of her teammates emulate. In net, Talina Benderer took most of the minutes in Sweden, so they'll have an experienced and netminder who allowed just five goals and had a .944 save percentage.

Nicole will be in person in Zug, Switzerland covering the tournament! If you haven't already, consider supporting her work with a subscription. You will get access to exclusive video content and features from the IIHF U18s by subscribing at $8/month or more.