Looking back at 2021 in women’s hockey

2021 was quite the year. So much happened, and then also didn’t happen, thanks to COVID and, ahem, the IIHF. Let’s take a look back at some of the top stories of the year...

The then-NWHL tried to play their 2021 season in a two-week protected environment in Lake Placid. The tournament style season got off to a good to start, before quickly falling victim to a COVID-19 outbreak that started with the Metropolitan Riveters leaving early, then the Connecticut Whale, and eventually forced the postponement of the season.

NWHL in Lake Placid
A timeline of Lake Placid’s mayhem
Remainder of NWHL season suspended due to new positive COVID tests, safety concerns

Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux retired in February, leaving a long legacy of hockey greatness.

Reflecting on two of women’s hockey’s best: A final farewell to Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux

The World Championships were postponed from their originally scheduled April 7-17 dates to May 6-16.

Women’s Worlds moved to May 6–16 in Halifax and Truro

In the NCAA world, Wisconsin won the National Championship, tying with Minnesota for most title wins in program history.

Badgers win National Championship, in OT

Aerin Frankel wins the Patty Kazmaier and inaugural Women’s College Hockey Goalie of the Year Award.

Frankel becomes the fourth goaltender to win best player in women’s college hockey

In March, the NWHL restarted their season in Boston, playing just three playoff games: two semifinals and the final. The Boston Pride became the first NWHL team to win two Isobel Cups.

NWHL to resume play with playoffs in Boston
Pride win 2021 Isobel Cup

Over in Sweden, the SDHL crowded their champion, Luleå.

Luleå wins their third consecutive championship

Just 15 days before the puck was set to the drop on the World Championships, the tournament was cancelled due to the rising COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia. The provincial government of Nova Scotia made the call, but the IIHF still took a lot of heat for not having back up plans for the women’s tournaments despite having them for the men’s.

IIHF World Championships cancelled
Shock and disappointment: Kacey Bellamy recounts Worlds cancellation
Czech national team left frustrated and skeptical after cancellation of 2021 Worlds

Two weeks later, the IIHF had an answer - rescheduled dates with no location. About a month after that, they announced a new location - Calgary.

Late August dates set for rescheduled Worlds
Calgary to host World Championship

Over in the PWHPA, the two US teams had a few traveling weekend showcases in the States. Up in Canada though, travel was much harder so the organization hosted a week-long quarantine environment tournament for the three teams.

PWHPA to play in Calgary
Calgary preview
Team Bauer topples Team Sonnet to win the Canadian leg of the Dream Gap Tour

The NWHL held two drafts over the summer - their normal entry draft and a new international draft.

Running draft board for the NWHL Draft
The first NWHL International Draft class

After initially being named interim Commissioner, Ty Tumminia was officially the Commissioner of the league.

Tyler Tumminia officially named NWHL Commissioner

The PWHPA slightly organized going into their third season. They kept five training hubs but moved the New Hampshire team to Boston.

PWHPA announced third Dream Gap Tour for 2021-22 season

F i n a l l y, after two postponements and a “cancelation,” the 10-teams convened on Calgary  for the World Championships. It was a memorable tournament.

2021 Worlds
Hilary Knight breaks all-time Worlds scoring record
Akane Shiga makes history, scoring Japan’s first goal against Team USA
Finland wins bronze
Canada wins gold medal, first at Worlds since 2012

NWHL is no more, at least in name, as they rebrand.

NWHL rebrands to PHF

Typically, the World Championships aren’t held in Olympic years. But, the IIHF voted to add the tournament in the fourth year starting in 2022.

IIHF adds Worlds to Olympic years

The PHF updated their trans inclusion policy.

Breaking down the PHF’s trans inclusion policy

After seasons of YouTube and a few on Twitch, the PHF moved their games to ESPN+, a paid steaming service that has a whole host of sports.

PHF to stream on EPSN+

Following the final round of Olympic qualifiers, the Olympic women’s ice hockey field is officially set. All 10 teams are officially set with the final three joining Japan and China in Group B.

Czech Republic, Denmark, and Sweden punch tickets to Beijing 2022

Video game players rejoice! National Teams are being added to EASports’ NHL22 sometime in January!

You can play as Poulin or Knight soon

The year closed out with some highly disappointing news: the U18 World Championship, set to begin early January in Sweden, was canceled due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19’s latest varient. This was the second year in a row the tournament was cancelled, all while the men’s Worlds Juniors (U20) was held.

IIHF cancels U18 2022 tournament

Here’s to 2022!