At the 2022 Women’s Under-18 World Championships, Canada won gold, the United States won silver and Finland won bronze – the same trio that made up the Olympic and World Championship medals last year.
While team success is the goal of any international competition, within a few years, a new generation of stars emerged at the tournament. Here are 10 players who made an impression at the Women’s Under-18 World Championship:
1. Leila Edwards, USA: Combining her 6-foot-2 height with an elite vision, Edwards was named the MVP of the tournament and looks like the future star of the game. Edwards uses his body to protect the puck and plays power forward style as he pushes his way to the middle of the ice. Her stick gets in the way of opposing players every time she’s on the ice, but it’s her ability to slow play, find passes, and unleash the power behind her shot that has led Edwards to make noise with the senior US national team in the future. She has four goals and four assists in the tournament.
2. Sydney Morrow, USA: Exceptional cutting edge and zone-conquering ability, Morrow is mobile and fearless with the puck. On the blue offensive line, Morrow shines with her lateral movement and deceit as she uses her body to protect the puck and open passes. Morrow, the most prolific defenseman of the tournament, scored a goal and provided seven assists. The Shattuck St. Mary alum will join Ohio State next season.
3. Karel Prefontaine, Canada: Arguably Canada’s most consistent striker, Prefontaine led a well-balanced Canadian group that lacked individual star power but came together to win the gold. Prefontaine loves to get to the muddy spots on the ice, engaging in puck battles in the corner and near the net. She is relentless in chasing the puck and has helped Canada pick up the pace when the team struggled. Prefontaine will play NCAA hockey for Cornell from 2023 to 2024.
4. Tessa Janeke, USA: Perhaps not a single player in the tournament combined explosive attacking abilities and Janeke’s physical superiority. It is difficult for her to play against a hard transfer of the puck to the center and a creative attack. Her skill set and physical play pushes back defenders, giving her room to strike. Janeke scored one of the most beautiful goals of the tournament against Finland in the preliminary round, going over the goal line and then backhanding and striking. Janeke scored 120 points in club hockey this year, added six at the Women’s Under-18 World Championship and will look to maintain her dominance next season in Pennsylvania.
5. Sarah Swidersky, Canada: There was a lot of hype that Swiderski would enter the tournament as the best player in Canada. While she was quiet in the opening games, Swiderski lived up to expectations, playing big minutes in all situations for Canada on her way to gold. She is mobile and excels at transitions, picking up pucks after turnovers or missed shots and immediately turning the game to ice. Named the star of the tournament, Swiderski is destined for Clarkson next year.
6. Sunny Vanhanen, Finland: At the age of 16, Vanhanen was discussed as a veteran of this tournament, as she had already played for the Finnish senior team in both the World Championships and the Olympics. Vanhanen was a constant threat, displaying her speed and ability to find open space. However, it was not until the bronze medal game against Sweden that Vanhanen separated from the competition. She scored all three goals in Finland’s 3-0 win and was named to the tournament’s All-Star Team.
7. Emilia Kirkko, Finland: Voted the best goaltender of the tournament, Kirkko was impressive from start to finish, winning against Canada in the tournament’s first match and again collecting 35 saves against Sweden in the bronze game to close out the game. Kirkko fought for pucks and made saves, she had nothing to stop, keeping the Finns in the game and giving them a chance to win. Kirkko finished with a 1.51 goals against average and a .958 shooting percentage.
8. Adela Sapovalivova, Czech Republic: The tournament’s only star from Group B, Sapovalivova, was honored with nine points in the tournament. Together with linemate Teresa Plosova, the Czech duo dominated their opponents in Group B and showed their level of skill in the game with Sweden, putting them on the brink of elimination. Sapovalivova retreated from defenders with her speed and had the coveted trait of never giving up in a game. She will be a star for the Czech Republic at all levels for years to come.
9. Mira Markstrom, Sweden: Although it was a disappointing tournament for the Swedes, Mira Markstrom stood out in every game. She has size and plays the game with power. Most impressive, however, are Markstrom’s hands. She manipulates the puck to open lanes, highlighted by a spectacular backhanded drag followed by a deceptive shot to score a spectacular goal against the Finns in the preliminary match. With excellent eye-hand coordination and a good figure skater, Markstrom has shown what she has achieved against senior opponents in the SDHL and translated it into a strong tournament against her peers.
Tuva Kandel, Sweden: Named the best defender of the tournament by management, Kandell played a crucial role in Sweden’s game of possession and entering the zone. Kandell, the tournament’s second top scorer from the blue line behind Morrow, also faced the challenge of managing the top lanes from Canada, the United States and Finland throughout the tournament, which was no easy task.
On Team USA’s blue line, Lainey Potter and Grace Dwyer deserve recognition for their performance. Potter is a big player who was one of the best defensively in the tournament. Dwyer was an offensive catalyst for the Americans from the rear. Similarly, Kirsten Simms has shown incredible heel-to-heel skating and puck handling up front and will be a member of the US national team in the near future.
In addition to this group, Jocelyn Amos and Alexia Obin from Canada, Una Gavana from Finland, Alina Marti from Switzerland and Teresa Plosova and Teresa Pistekova from the Czech Republic deserve recognition.