Green Bay, Wisconsin, will be home to the World Para Ice Hockey Women’s World Challenge this weekend. From Friday, Aug. 26 – Sunday, Aug. 28, four teams will compete in the international tournament: Team Canada, Team USA, Team Great Britain, and Team World, featuring players from seven different countries.
The tournament will have a round-robin followed by gold and bronze medal games on Sunday.
The World Challenge is one of the most substantial women’s para hockey tournaments to date. Previous women’s para hockey festivals and tournaments have involved games between Canada, the USA, and a collective European team. No tournaments have brought together quite as many nations as this.
Three national teams plus a world team featuring seven nationalities marks an essential point in this sport’s growth and is an exciting time for the players and coaches.
“We are very excited to have Great Britain joining,” said Tara Chisholm, head coach of the Canadian team. And hopefully, she said, the players on the world team can go home from the tournament and help develop programs in their own countries like Great Britain had.
The tournament already has USA Hockey looking to the future. “This event is what is going to put women’s para ice hockey on the map,” said Brandon Beaver, manager for US National Sled Hockey Development Teams. “These are, in a sense, pre-qualifiers to get us to 2025 world championships and then ultimately, the goal is to have women’s para hockey debut in the Paralympics in 2030.”
The tournament provides an opportunity for players to showcase their skills and increase awareness of the women’s para hockey game. There is hope that this tournament can serve as a stepping stone to a women’s world championships and the inclusion of women’s para hockey in the Paralympics. Teams Canada, USA, and Great Britain will look to improve their team and take home new ideas and skills for development. The world team members will hope to go home and grow peer hockey in each of their own countries.
In previous major international women’s para hockey tournaments, the US has reigned supreme. In 2014, they won with an unbeaten record of 5-0-0 while Canada had a record of 2-3-5, and team Europe went 0-5-0. The three teams met again in 2016 at the Women’s World Ice Sledge Hockey Festival in Norway. The USA and Canada split their two-game series, and both defeated Team Europe. In 2018, the USA took gold again with a slim victory over Canada and team Europe in third.
The teams look dramatically different than they did before the pandemic, but I expect a similar result with the USA leading the way and Canada closely on their heels. Everyone involved in the tournament is excited.
Schedule (All times in Central Time):
- Aug 26, 15:00: GB vs World
- Aug 26, 18:30: USA vs Canada
- Aug 27, 10:00: Canada vs World
- Aug 27, 13:30: Canada cs GB
- Aug 27, 17:00: USA vs World
- Aug 27, 20:30: USA vs GB
- Aug 28, 11:00: Bronze Medal Game
- Aug 28, 15:00: Gold Medal Game