From the Archives: The 1990 IIHF Women’s World Championship

Let’s turn back the clock three decades and dig into the first IIHF Women’s Worlds

Three years after the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association (OWHA) organized an unofficial worlds tournament, the IIHF hosted the 1990 Women’s World Championship in Ottawa. Eight teams — Canada, USA, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, West Germany, Norway, and Japan — competed in a furious, physical tournament that forced the rest of the hockey world to take notice. The women who battled on the ice in Ottawa put the women’s game on a collision course with a debut in the Winter Olympics in 1998.

It is, undoubtedly, one of the most significant events in the history of the sport.

Needless to say, there is much we can learn about the game by analyzing that first Worlds tournament. A single viewing of the IIHF’s 58 second highlight video of the gold medal game between USA and Canada reveals just how far skating, goaltending, and the overall skill of players have come in 30 years. Unfortunately, a full video of the game — or the other 19 games of the competition — has proven difficult to track down online. The Ice Garden has reached out to the IIHF for resources, including video and box scores, but has yet to hear back.

By scouring the internet, we were able to cobble together basic team, skater, and goalie stats from Ottawa, which were previously unavailable on and similar sites. This is a lot like having all of the edge pieces of a puzzle in place — it’s a start, but we’ve still got a look of work to do to get the full picture. Still, we can glean a great deal even from game summaries and some of the other fragmented data we were able to turn up.

Now, let’s dive into some history.


Team Stats


Skater Stats

Angela JamesCANF511213102.60
Heather GinzelCANF5751202.40
Susana YuenCANF5571202.40
Shirley CameronCANF5561102.20
Stacy WilsonCANF5381102.20
Vicky SunoharaCANF563921.80
France MontourCANF5628101.60
France St. LouisCANF535821.60
Geraldine HeaneyCAND526841.60
Dawn McGuireCAND525721.40
Sue SchererCANF525721.40
Margot PageCANF516701.40
Diane MichaudCAND516721.40
Laura SchulerCANF542681.20
Brenda RichardCAND515661.20
Kim RatushnyCANF514501.00
Teresa HutchinsonCAND5033180.60
Judy DiduckCAND510160.20
Stefanie PutzGERF524681.20
Birgit LisewskiGERF522400.80
Monika SpringGERF522440.80
Christina Oswald (Fellner)GERF5303100.60
Beate BartGERF521340.60
Sandra KinzaGERD512340.60
Elvira SaagerGERF520200.40
Maren ValentiGERF511200.40
Silvia SchneegansGERF502260.40
Karin KornGERF510120.20
Karin ObermaierGERD501120.20
Kira BergerGERD500000.00
Bettina KirschnerGERF500000.00
Ines MolitorGERD500000.00
Natascha ShaffrikGERF500000.00
Claudie HaafGERD500040.00
Cornelia OstrowskiGERD500040.00
Claudia PatzoldGERD500060.00
Liisa KarikoskiFINF5291122.20
Riikka SallinenFINF5821042.00
Anne HaanpaaFIND543701.40
Sari KrooksFINF552781.40
Marianne IhalainenFINF542621.20
Marika LehtimakiFINF505501.00
Leena MajarantaFINF532501.00
Tilna PihalaFINF5325101.00
Tiia ReimaFINF514581.00
Johanna IkonenFINF522420.80
Katri-Helena LuomajokiFIND513420.80
Paivi HalonenFIND503320.60
Minna HonkanenFINF512300.60
Kirsi HirvonenFIND401100.25
Katri JavanainenFINF301100.33
Katja LavoniusFINF510120.20
Leena PajunenFIND501180.20
Jaana RautavuornaFIND501180.20
Kristina BergstrandSWEF552721.40
Lisa PlahnSWEF543701.40
Camilla KempeSWEF551641.20
Susanne CederSWED523541.00
Annika PerssonSWEF440421.00
Asa ElfvingSWEF503320.60
Ann-Sofie ErikssonSWED411240.50
Linda GustafssonSWED502220.40
Malin PerssonSWEF520200.40
Karin AnderssonSWED4011100.25
Tina BjorkSWED310140.33
Anette JarviSWEF501120.20
Christina ManssonSWEF510120.20
Pernilla HallengrenSWEF500000.00
Pia MoreliusSWEF300040.00
Helena NybergSWED400020.00
Petra WikstromSWEF5000180.00
Kimberley UrechSUIF5861422.80
Barbara WolfSUIF535821.60
Edith NiederhauserSUIF543701.40
Regula SteblerSUIF523561.00
Iris HolzerSUID5224160.80
Mirelle NothigerSUID512320.60
Cornelia OchsnerSUID503360.60
Daniela MaagSUIF502280.40
Andrea SchweizerSUIF520240.40
Doris WyssSUID302200.67
Nicole AndermattSUID501120.20
Nicole WalderSUID401100.25
Leila ZachSUIF510100.20
Mirjam BaechlerSUID200000.00
Claudia BlattlerSUIF500040.00
Sandra GrutterSUIF500040.00
Monika LeuenbergerSUIF500020.00
Nicole SchumacherSUIF500040.00
Cornelia TannerSUIF500020.00
Inger Lise FagernesNORF562881.60
Gine Marie MoeNORF551601.20
Hilde JohansonNORD513420.80
Nina JohansenNORF4314181.00
Christin SmerudNORD512360.60
Marit LarssenNORD502220.40
Marianne GomsrudNORF501100.20
Camilla HilleNORF501100.20
Tonje LarsenNORF501180.20
May Olaug AnsnesNORD100000.00
Lena BergersenNORF300000.00
Anne Eriksen-MosebyNORF100000.00
Jeanette HansenNORF500000.00
Tone OppegardNORF500000.00
Anne Therese PetersenNORD500060.00
Kristina SoderstromNORF400000.00
Eva StromsborgNORD500060.00
Christine WennerbergNORF400000.00
Masako SatoJPNF541561.00
Ayako OkadaJPNF513420.80
Rie SatohJPNF540420.80
Cheiko TanakaJPND512320.60
Shiho FujiwaraJPNF502240.40
Yuko KurihashiJPNF502200.40
Rika HasegawaJPND510140.20
Michiko HatakeyamaJPND501100.20
Sairi HondaJPNF500040.00
Chihomi IshiiJPNF500020.00
Yumiko ItohJPNF500000.00
Hiroko MabuchiJPND500020.00
Yasuko MasudaJPND5000100.00
Kayoko MiuraJPNF500000.00
Tamami NishidaJPND400060.00
Misayo ShibataJPNF500020.00
Yoko SuzukiJPND500060.00
Yumiko TsukamotoJPNF500000.00
Cammi GranatoUSAF5951442.80
Cindy CurleyUSAF511122324.60
Kelly O'LearyUSAD5651182.20
Tina CardinaleUSAF55101523.00
Kim EisenriedUSAF5551022.00
Beth BeaganUSAF5461052.00
Lisa Brown (Miller)USAF527901.80
Shawna DavidsonUSAF524661.20
Jeanine SobekUSAF413441.00
Judy ParishUSAD504460.80
Heidi ChalupnikUSAF521300.60
Sharon StidsenUSAD503360.60
Lauren ApolloUSAD5033100.60
Sue MerzUSAF511220.40
Kelley OwenUSAD511240.40
Maria DennisUSAF510120.20
Julie SasnerUSAF401100.25
Yvonne PercyUSAD501120.20

Goalie Stats

Kelly DyerUSA42001283710.8553.6024.90
Mary JonesUSA210319160.84218.00114.00
Annica AhlenSWE21201063530.8415.0031.50
Agneta NilssonSWE3180251331080.8128.3344.33
Tanja MullerSUI31471597820.8456.1239.59
Christiane BischofbergerSUI315324104800.7699.4140.78
Kari FjellhammerNOR5255392061670.8119.1848.47
Kari BergNOR245621150.7148.0028.00
Tamae SatsuJPN4151171431260.8816.7556.82
Kaori TakahashiJPN414930111810.73012.0844.70
Aurelia VonderstrassGER31801065550.8463.3321.67
Karin BerlinghofGER21202391680.74711.5045.50
Ritva AholaFIN1600551.0000.005.00
Liisa-Maria SneckFIN42401589740.8313.7522.25
Cathy PhillipsCAN4156332290.9061.1512.31
Denise CaronCAN3144532270.8442.0813.33


The 1990 Worlds tournament was the highest-scoring Worlds tournament in history. On average, 11.85 combined goals were scored per-game. That number is inflated by the highest-scoring game in Worlds’ competition, USA’s crushing 16-3 win over Switzerland, and the biggest blowout in Worlds’ history, Canada’s 18-0 rout of Japan. The lowest game of the entire tournament was a 4-1 victory for West Germany over Japan in the group play stage.

We can infer a great deal about the parity in skill by team scoring rates. Canada led the tournament with an astounding 12.2 G/GP; Japan was at the bottom of the table with an average of 2.2 G/GP. On average, Canada defeated its opponents in Ottawa by 10.6 goals. Oh, and we know that they were holding back early in the tournament. Canada’s head coach, Dave McMaster, discouraged his team from running up the score early in the tournament by passing the puck five times before shooting (On the Edge: Women Making Hockey History).

One of hockey’s greatest records emerged from this high-scoring tournament. Team USA’s Cindy Curley scored 23 points — 11 goals and 12 assists — in five games to lead all skaters. Tina Cardinale, also of Team USA, finished second in the tournament (and second all-time) behind Curley with 15 points of her own. It should be noted that Hockey Hall of Famer Angela James scored 11 goals of her own to share the tournament lead with Curley.

Through her first four games of the tournament, Curley averaged 10.0 SOG/GP and scored 10 goals. She scored the first goal of the gold medal game against Canada just 2:25 into the first period, but was kept out of the box score for the remainder of the game. Canada’s ability to shut Team USA’s offense down in the gold medal game is represented by both the 5-2 final score and a 40 to 15 shot-differential (unofficial).

Team Canada’s Vicky Sunohara recently shared some of her memories about Ottawa with the IIHF, including what it was like to play against Team USA and Curley. “Don McLeod, my coach at Northeastern, was the coach of the U.S. team,” said Sunohara. “I had played with and against a whole bunch of those girls on their team. I remember Cindy Curley and Tina Cardinale were very, very good. It was an amazing atmosphere in the final. I thought: ‘This is the first time I’ve ever seen the stands full at a women’s hockey game.’ It was electric in the building. You’re playing for a World Championship gold medal.”

No player has piled up 14 points in a single Worlds tournament since Monique Lamoureux-Morando’s seven-goal, seven-assist performance at the 2012 Worlds. The only other players to register at least 14 points in a single tournament are Cammi Granato, Hayley Wickenheiser, and Kim Urech — two of whom are in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Urech, like James, never competed in another IIHF event despite the skill she displayed in Ottawa.

There’s a good chance that Curley’s record of 23 points — or 4.6 Pts/GP — may stand the test of time.


With such high-scoring games, it should come as little surprise that goaltending stats from Ottawa 1990 look lackluster compared to the modern game. The combined save percentage of all goaltenders in Ottawa was .818. However, that number means very little without context. It’s crucial to remember just how far goaltending training, coaching, techniques, and even equipment have all come since the early 1990s. It’s also important to keep in mind that we’re working with small sample sizes when we look at data from major international tournaments.

Canada’s Cathy Phillips led all netminders with a .906 Sv% and a 1.15 GAA while facing a light workload of 12.31 SA60 (shots against per hour). That pales in comparison to how many pucks Japan’s Tamae Satsu saw and stopped in Ottawa. She played 151 minutes in the tournament, finishing with a 56.82 SA60 and an outstanding .881 Sv%. As a result of her valiant performance, Satsu earned the nod for the tournament’s All-Star team over Phillips and Team USA’s Kelly Dyer (.855 Sv%).

Canada’s +53 goal differential in five games (61-8) indicates just how dynamic the team was compared to the rest of the field at the time. Three years prior, Team Ontario defeated Team USA by a score of 5-4 in the semifinals of the OWHA’s unofficial world championship. The rest of Canada defeated Team Ontario 4-0 in the gold medal game.

Rough Stuff

Stats and final scores can tell us a lot, but the story of the 1990 Worlds could also be told by x-rays and the combined surface area of the countless bruises sustained by its competitors.

Ottawa 1990 remains the only IIHF Women’s Worlds where hitting was legal. The history of hitting in the women’s game deserves a deep dive of its own, but we’ll offer a condensed version here to set the scene.

The eternal debate about hitting and the women’s game started the moment women began playing organized hockey. In the 1980s, some European national teams, like Germany, relied on physical play to make up for a lack of skating ability. The U.S. also fielded a big, physical team in Ottawa in part because hitting was allowed. However, some of the teams had very limited experience with hitting. As a result, there were a ton of penalties and injuries in Ottawa.

While it’s true that the 1990 and 1992 Worlds had identical penalty minute totals (483), eleven different players finished the Ottawa tournament with 10 or more PIM. In the most recent Worlds competition, the 2019 Worlds in Espoo, just three players finished with 10 or more PIM. Also, Canada, USA, Finland, and Russia each played seven games in Espoo compared to the five games played by all teams in Ottawa in 1990. So, the game was definitely a lot rougher — and sloppier — than it is today.

With full game videos and/or box scores unavailable to track events like shot attempts and shots on goal, it’s hard to quantify just how much of an impact hitting had on possession. Even if we did have those resources, we’d still need to take into consideration how “new” women’s hockey was to many of the programs competing in Ottawa. Still, we could learn a lot about hitting and much more by watching the four games that TSN broadcast of the 1990 Worlds even if the overall skill of the athletes is vastly different than it is today.

For the time being, it’s just one more piece of women’s hockey history that remains frustratingly out of our reach.

The Gold Medal Game

Fittingly enough, the most riveting game of the tournament was the gold medal game between Team Canada and Team USA. More than 9,000 fans watched the game in the Ottawa Civic Centre and over a million more Canadians watched on TSN.

After cruising through the group stage with a roster consisting of two current Hockey Hall of Famers, Canada hit a snag in the semifinal against Finland. Canada had a 6-3 lead heading into the third period, but Finland rallied with two consecutive goals. The host country eventually prevailed by a score of 6-5, that close call only amplified the emotion of the gold medal game.

Like Canada, Team USA outclassed the opposition in the group stage, earning a bye into the semifinal. There, they dismantled Sweden in a 10-3 victory to punch their ticket to a much-anticipated meeting with their neighbors north of the border.

Perhaps still reeling from the semifinal, Canada found itself down a goal to Team USA as a result of a soft backhand shot by Cindy Curley just 2:25 into the gold medal game. The U.S. scored again with 4:40 left on the clock in the first period to go up 2-0. But that unlikely 2-0 lead stood for just 18 seconds. France St. Louis, Canada’s captain, got her team on the board and back on track. Later, with 1:26 left in the period and only two seconds remaining on a Cammi Granato elbowing penalty, Canada tied the game on the power play.

Canada went on to score the only goal of the second (Geraldine Heaney) and scored again in the third period (Sunohara) before St. Louis buried an empty-net goal with 30 seconds left in regulation. Team USA’s Kelly Dyer stopped 35 shots, but wasn’t able to slow the onslaught tide of Canada’s offense enough to keep her team ahead. Canada, decked out in infamous pink jerseys, won the game by a score of 5-3. It was the first of eight consecutive golds for Canada in Worlds competition.


Because this is an atypical piece, we thought it would be beneficial to readers who are inspired to do some digging of their own to see an itemized list of some of the sources used for this article.