A collective sigh of relief could be heard around the hockey world this past weekend, as the International Ice Hockey Federation announced that it would, in fact, be rescheduling its 2021 running of the Women’s World Championship.
Having just announced the cancellation of this year’s international tournament back on April 21, which was originally set for a May 6 start date in Halifax and Truro, Nova Scotia, the IIHF has vowed to bring the best female hockey players back to the centre stage with the Women’s Worlds, which has now been decided ‘in principle’ to run from August 20-31.
“The players, the teams, Hockey Canada, and the IIHF have been placed in a difficult position due to the sudden cancellation,” IIHF president Rene Fasel said this past weekend. “But this is not an excuse to operate this tournament as a half-measure. We needed a range of dates that can work for the teams and also would allow for comprehensive broadcast coverage as well as a chance for spectators to be able to attend the games.”
With significant preparation underway for what was supposed to be an 11-day event from May 6-16 before the provincial government of Nova Scotia kiboshed the plans, the attention will now shift to a late-summer event, happening shortly after the conclusion of the 2021 Summer Olympic Games (July 23 to August 8).
“In our meeting with the teams, unfortunately we were unable to achieve a full consensus on the dates, with some teams preferring to play in early September and others in late August,” Fasel added. “But we need to respect as much as possible the start of various women’s leagues around the world, and also recognize the needs of the four teams that must prepare for the Women’s Olympic Qualification tournament in November.”
The hopeful site of the games is Calgary, with the province of Alberta serving as the front-runner among the hopeful tournament host locations. Having recently held the NHL’s 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs and the IIHF’s 2021 World Junior Hockey Championship within the province in a bubble setting, the governing bodies should be very familiar and accepting of this opportunity to highlight the very best of professional women’s hockey.
“I would like to thank the Council, Hockey Canada, and the teams for their input and participation in a decision-making process that was organized on such short notice,” he said. “We passed an important first milestone by finding the optimal dates to hold this event and now will proceed to the next stage and choose a suitable venue.”
Although many proposals have been put forward on a site for the games, the IIHF and Hockey Canada are expected to narrow down the list and announce site and venue(s) in the coming week.
Set to participate in the 2021 running of the Women’s World Championship were Manitobans Jocelyne Larocque (Ste. Anne), Brigette Lacquette (Mallard) and Kristen Campbell of Brandon. Also having earned a place on the Canadian roster was therapist Jami Boyd from Minnedosa.