Around the Rink - May 21

News from around the world of women’s hockey

Welcome to Around the Rink, a new weekly feature rounding up news from the around the women’s hockey world! Every Monday, we’ll give you the quick hits you may have missed from the last week (or so). It won’t be completely comprehensive because, well, there’s so much news out there.

USA Hockey: Maura Crowell named head coach, Brianna Decker named assistant coach of U-18 National Team

On May 16, USA Hockey announced their coaching staff for the Under-18 National Team for the 2018-19 season.

The team’s head coach is Maura Crowell, the head coach at University of Minnesota Duluth. The former Cornell player has extensive college coaching experience from Connecticut College, to UMass Boston, to Harvard. This is her first time as National Team head coach after two seasons as an assistant coach.

Coming off her gold medal in PyeongChang, Brianna Decker will make her first appearance behind the bench for the U-18 team. The forward has coaching experience from camps and at her college in Wisconsin. She will remain an active USA Hockey player as well. Josh Sciba will be the other assistant coach. He’s been involved in coaching USAH camps for 10 years and is currently the head coach of Union College’s hockey team.

IIHF: China granted automatic entry in women’s hockey for 2022 Beijing Olympics

The 2018 IIHF Annual Congress was held during the 2018 Men’s Worlds Championships in Copenhagen. At the meetings, the IIHF officially allowed China, as the host nation, to automatically have a spot in the women’s hockey tournament during the 2022 Olympics. Other teams must qualify, usually through world rankings and qualifying tournaments, though more details will be released later. This will be China’s fourth appearance in the Olympics. They placed fourth in Nagano 1998 and also participated in the Olympics in 2002 and 2010.

There are also discussions between the IIHF, IOC, and China to expand the Olympic field from eight to 10 teams. The 2019 Worlds will be expanding to 10 teams.

The press release notes the strides China has been making to strengthen their hockey program, including this, uh, interesting way of talking about Kunlun and Vanke.

On the women’s side Kunlun Red Star and a second Chinese team played in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League last season and China also sent girls’ teams to compete in the United States.

IIHF: 2019 Worlds in Espoo, Finland

We knew that the 2019 World Championship would be in Finland already. But Finland announced the host city will be Espoo, which is close to the capital of Helsinki. The tentative dates are April 4 - 14. This will also be the first year the field is 10 teams, instead of eight.

The tournament will be two tiers again. Group A will include USA, Canada, Finland, Russia and Switzerland, while Group B will be Sweden, Japan, Germany, the Czech Republic and France.

SDHL: Brynäs fired their coach/head of the women’s program

Brynäs IF, a team in the Swedish women’s hockey league (the SDHL), is starting from scratch. They fired Åke Lilljebjörn, their head coach and head of the program.

“There has been a messy year of business in Brynäs IF’s women’s business, something that the management took over to set up a working group to evaluate the organization. The investigation revealed a large number of shortcomings. Therefore, we now choose to start over from zero and with a long-term and sustainable plan as a reason to restart damaging operations, says Michael Campese, club director Brynäs IF.”

The process to find a new head coach is underway so the team can recruit players ahead of the upcoming season.

NWHL: Pride defender Alyssa Gagliardi plans to return to Boston

NWHL Free Agency for the fourth season starts officially on June 1. Pride defender Alyssa Gagliardi said she hopes to re-sign for her fourth season with the team soon. The North Carolina native and Cornell alum played a large part for the Pride last season after Boston lost many players to residency in the Olympic year.

Did I miss a news item? Drop me a note on Twitter @michelle_jay3 and keep an eye out for next week.