The 2022 Women’s U-18 World Championship is in the books with Canada winning gold, the USA silver, and Finland bronze - the same trio that made up the Olympic and World Championship medals over the past year.
While team success is the goal of any international competition, the next generation of stars emerged at the tournament after a few years away. Here are 10 players who impressed from the women’s U-18 World Championship:
1. Laila Edwards, USA: Combining her 6-foot-2 frame with elite vision, Edwards was named tournament MVP and looks like a future star of the game. Edwards utilizes her frame to protect the puck and plays a power forward style game pushing her way to the middle of the ice. Her stick disrupts opposing players every time she’s on the ice, but it is her ability to slow the play down, find passing lanes and unleash the strength behind her shot that has Edwards destined to make noise with USA’s senior national team in the future. She had four goals and four assists in the tournament.
2. Sydney Morrow, USA: Exceptional edgework and ability to gain the zone, Morrow is mobile and fearless with the puck. On the offensive blueline, Morrow’s lateral movement and deception shines as she uses her body to protect the puck and open lanes. The highest scoring defender in the tournament, Morrow had a goal and seven assists. The Shattuck St. Mary’s grad will join Ohio State next season.
3. Karel Prefontaine, Canada: Perhaps Canada’s most consistent forward, Prefontaine led a well balanced Canadian group that lacked individual star power, but came together to win gold. Prefontaine loves to get to the dirty spaces on the ice, engaging in puck battles in the corner and at the net front. She is relentless in her puck pursuit and helped to elevate Canada’s pace when the team was struggling. Prefontaine will play NCAA hockey for Cornell beginning in 2023-2024.
4. Tessa Janecke, USA: Perhaps no player in the tournament combined the explosive offensive ability and physical edge of Janecke. She is difficult to play against taking pucks hard to the middle and creatively attacking. Her skill set and physical play back off defenders giving her space to shoot. Janecke scored one of the prettiest goals of the tournament against Finland in the preliminary round walking the goal line before going backhand and roofing a shot. Janecke scored 120 points in club hockey this year, added six in the Women’s U-18 World Championship, and will look to continue her dominance next season at Penn State.
5. Sara Swiderski, Canada: There was a lot of hype for Swiderski coming into the tournament as Canada’s top player. While she was quiet in the early games, Swiderski lived up to the expectations playing big minutes in all situations for Canada en route to gold. She’s mobile and thrives in transition, collecting pucks off turnovers or missed shots and immediately turning the play up ice. Named a tournament all-star, Swiderski is destined for Clarkson next year.
6. Sanni Vanhanen, Finland: At 16-years-old, Vanhanen was discussed as a veteran in this tournament as she’s already played for Finland’s senior national team at both the World Championship and Olympics. Vanhanen was a constant threat showcasing her speed and ability to find open space. It wasn’t until the bronze medal game against Sweden, however, where Vanhanen separated herself from the competition. She scored all three goals in Finland’s 3-0 victory and was named to the tournament all-star team.
7. Emilia Kyrkko, Finland: Voted the tournament’s top goaltender, Kyrkko was spectacular from start to finish shutting out Canada in their opening game of the tournament, and again collecting a 35-save shutout against Sweden in the bronze medal game to close things out. Kyrkko battled for pucks and made saves she had no business stopping, keeping the Finns in games and giving them a chance to win. Kyrkko finished with a 1.51 goals against average and .958 save percentage.
8. Adela Sapovalivova, Czechia: The lone tournament all-star from Group B, Sapovalivova earned the honor scoring nine points in the tournament. Along with linemate Tereza Plosova, the Czechian duo dominated Group B opponents, and showed their skill level against Sweden taking them to the brink of elimination. Sapovalivova backed off defenders with her speed and had the desired trait of never giving up on a play. She will be a star for Czechia at all levels for years to come.
9. Mira Markstrom, Sweden: While it was a disappointing tournament for the Swedes, Mira Markstrom was a standout in each game. She has size and plays the game with power. Most impressive, however, is Markstrom’s hands. She manipulates the puck to open lanes, highlighted by a spectacular backhand drag, followed by a deceptive release to score a highlight reel goal against the Finns in preliminary action. Excellent eye hand coordination and a good skater, Markstrom showed what she’s gained playing against older competition in the SDHL and translated it to a strong tournament against her peers.
10. Tuva Kandell, Sweden: Named the tournament’s top defender by the directorate, Kandell was crucial to Sweden’s possession game and zone entry. The tournament’s second leading scorer from the blueline behind Morrow, Kandell also faced the task of managing top lines from Canada, the USA, and Finland throughout the tournament, which was no easy task.
On the blueline for the United States, Laney Potter and Grace Dwyer deserve recognition for their play. Potter is a big player who defensively was one of the best in the tournament. Dwyer was an offensive catalyst for the Americans from the back end. Similarly, Kirsten Simms up front showed incredible heel-to-heel skating and puck skills throughout, and will be a member of the USA’s senior national team in the near future.
Aside from this group, Canada’s Jocelyn Amos and Alexia Aubin, Finland’s Oona Havana, Switzerland’s Alina Marti, and Czechia’s Tereza Plosova and Tereza Pistekova all are worthy of recognition.