Stars were born and records fell at the 2023 women’s U-18 World Championship in Sweden.
The 14-year-old Slovakian phenom Nela Lopusanova was named the tournament MVP and best forward, leading the tournament in scoring and scoring several highlight-reel goals.
On the blueline, Mira Jungaker was the top blueliner, joined by USA’s Molly Jordan on the all-tournament team.
Canada’s Caitlin Kramer, also named to the all-tournament team, topped all players with 10 goals, breaking Marie-Philip Poulin’s Canadian record of eight goals in a single tournament.
Also on the all-tournament team were Finland’s Pauliina Salonen and Swedish netminder Felicia Frank, who was named the tournament’s top goaltender.
Here’s a look at the top 25 performers of the 2023 women’s U-18 World Championship.
1. Nela Lopusanova, Slovakia, F, 2008: Lopusanova became a human highlight reel in this tournament, scoring between her legs, batting the puck out of the air, getting a “Michigan” lacrosse-style goal and capitalizing on breakaways and penalty shots. For a player in Group B to steal the show this lopsidedly, you know her skill is unique. She’s lighting it up against older boys in Slovakia, and with three years’ eligibility left, could become the U-18’s all-time leading scorer. Lopusanova was named tournament MVP and best forward.
2. Caitlin Kraemer, Canada, F, 2006: Kraemer didn’t score many flashy goals, but she scored in abundance. Kraemer went into traffic and always found the puck. Driving through the neutral zone and toward the net, Kraemer is always scanning the ice, ready to attack open space. She scored four goals in the gold medal game, breaking Marie-Philip Poulin’s record for most goals by a Canadian in a U-18 tournament, and Kendall Coyne Schofield’s tournament record for the fastest hat trick. When you break records held by those players, the sky is the limit.
3. Mira Jungaker, Sweden, D, 2005: Jungaker thrives joining the rush and running the power play. Her edgework enables her to rapidly change directions with the puck and evade pressure. She reads the play well, and she wants the puck on her stick when the game is on the line. Not only is she offensively gifted, but Jungaker doesn’t give up much on the defensive side of the puck, using her elite skating to stay with attackers. She was named the tournament’s top defender.
4. Molly Jordan, USA, D, 2005: Jordan has excellent edgework enabling her to transport the puck laterally along the blueline in the offensive zone and in transition. Although she didn’t appear prominently on the scoresheet, Jordan was everywhere else for Team USA, averaging more than 26 minutes on ice per game.
5. Adela Sapovalivova, Czechia, F, 2006: She continues to get better, and is the central driving force for Czechia. Sapovalivova manipulates the puck and her agility to break checks and freeze netminders. Her skill popped onto the world scene at last year’s U-18 tournament, and she’s since become one of the top threats in the senior national loops as well.
6. Maggie Scannell, USA, F, 2006: Using her size and reach to her advantage, Scannell emerged as a probable prospect for USA’s national team. Scannell is hard to stop when she’s at top speed, especially given her ability to control the puck in flight. With another year left of eligibility, Scannell will enter next year’s tournament as a top forward to watch in Group A.
7. Joy Dunne, USA, F, 2005: Dunne finds her way to the puck and does not shy away from tough spots on the ice. She’s always around the net and is difficult to compete against down low and along the boards.
8. Alex Law, Canada, F, 2005: Law pushes the pace with her play. She’s not afraid to get to the middle of the ice and can play with an edge. She scored two of the biggest goals for Canada in this tournament, notching the tying goal and OT-winner in the semifinal. After going without a point last year, Law has stepped into a leading role for Canada en route to gold.
9. Gabrielle Kim, USA, D, 2005: Kim is reliable defensively but willing to jump into the attack. She is a well-rounded defender who played big minutes for the USA. She is skilled at getting into shooting lanes and is unafraid of using her body to block shots.
10. Emma Pais, Canada, F, 2005: Pais was an all-around leader for Canada on the scoresheet, equalling Alex Law with seven points each for second on the team. She also drove possession, helping to pin opponents in their own zone. She led Canada with a plus-13 and averaged almost 19 minutes of ice per game. She is a complete player.
11. Tereza Plosova, Czechia, F, 2006
12. Alessia Baechler, Switzerland, D, 2005
13. Sanni Vanhanen, Finland, F, 2005
14. Pauliina Salonen, Finland, F, 2005
15. Hilda Svensson, Sweden, F, 2006
16. Ava Murphy, Canada, D, 2005
17. Piper Grober, Canada, D, 2005
18. Jenna Raunio, Sweden, D, 2006
19. Felicia Frank, Sweden, G, 2005
20. Hannah Clark, Canada, G, 2006
21. Finley McCarthy, USA, F, 2005
22. Mira Markstrom, Sweden, F, 2005
23. Annelies Bergmann, USA, G, 2005
24. Sinna Varjonen, Finland, D, 2005
25. Zuzana Dobiasova, Slovakia, F 2005