By the numbers: Looking at Canada-USA world championship rematch

Melodie-Daoust

Canada's Melodie Daoust, right, celebrates her goal with teammates Natalie Spooner, left, and Blayre Turnbull during first period IIHF Women's World Championship hockey action against the United States in Calgary, Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021. (Jeff McIntosh / CP)

NOTE: This piece was originally published on Aug. 25, prior to Thursday’s preliminary game between Canada the United States. All stats have been updated to reflect both teams’ paths to Tuesday’s gold medal rematch.

Leading into last Thursday’s preliminary matchup, it had been more than two years since we last saw Canada and the United States face off in hockey’s top rivalry at the IIHF Women’s World Championship.

It’s been even longer since the two battled for gold on the worlds stage, making this year’s gold-medal matchup – their first at the tournament since the 2017 world championship final – all the more intriguing.

Here’s a by-the-numbers look at this legendary rivalry at the worlds, plus a snapshot of how each team has performed so far in this year’s event as they prepare to go head-to-head for the tournament’s top prize:

A gold-medal rematch four years in the making

5: Team USA has won five consecutive world championship gold medals, dating back to 2013 (the tournament isn’t held during Olympic years, and the 2020 event was cancelled). Their golden streak has represented a bit of a shift atop the hockey world. Canada won the first eight world championships, beginning in 1990, but since that streak ended in 2004 the Canucks have landed atop the podium just twice.

10-9: Over the course of 19 world championship tournaments, Canada and the U.S. are the only two nations to have claimed its top prize, with the Canadians winning worlds gold 10 times and its cross-border foe now sitting at nine. If Team USA can extend its golden streak to six straight this year, it’ll even up the all-time score.

18: In 19 world championships since the first event in 1990, Canada and the U.S. have met in the gold-medal game 18 times. The most recent tournament, held in 2019, was the first time we didn’t have a cross-border battle for gold — Canada lost in the semifinal to Finland that year, and went on to claim bronze against the ROC.

20: USA Hockey has never not appeared in the gold-medal game at the women’s world championship. It earned its 20th consecutive berth in the tournament’s final with Monday’s 3-0 win over Finland.

2012: The last time Canada won world championship gold was in 2012. It’s been even longer since it won it at home — 2007, in Selkirk, Man. Team Canada can break both droughts this year in Calgary.

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2021 tournament at a glance

4-0: Canada’s record after the preliminary round, emerging as the tournament’s top seed with an undefeated record for the first time since 2013. Two more wins through the elimination round now has them within reach of a perfect tournament.

5-1: This gold medal matchup is the second meeting between Canada and the U.S. at this year’s tournament. The rival nations met Thursday to decide the top seed of Group A, with Canada defeating USA in overwhelming fashion by a score of 5-1.

6: There’s a youth surge happening on both sides of the border, and it’s proving fruitful on the scoresheet. Team USA rookie Grace Zumwinkle, 22, is tied for the team lead in goals (4) and (6) with veteran Hilary Knight. On the Canadian side, it’s forward Sarah Fillier who’s shining bright at her first career worlds – she’s got three goals and two assists. The future of this rivalry is bright.

6-6-12: The stat line belonging to Team Canada’s Melodie Daoust, who leads the entire tournament in all three statistical categories this year. Daoust has registered at least one point in every game so far in Calgary and has four multi-point games – including her two-goal affair Monday night in the semis against Switzerland.

31-5: Through six games, Canada has scored a tournament-leading 31 goals. Combine that with its tournament-best five goals against, and you’ve got about as dominant a team performance as it gets. Canada’s tournament-opening matchup against Finland, a 5-3 win, was the only time it’s let in more than a single goal. (Team USA isn’t far behind, by the way: their goal differential is 26-7.)

Chasing greatness

Throughout its three-decade existence, the women’s worlds has seen some incredible individual performances. Nine of the tournament’s top 10 all-time points leaders are either Canadian or American, and two of them are still playing today: U.S. forwards Hilary Knight and Brianna Decker, both of whom have already made history at the tournament this month.

47: Number of career goals scored by Team USA forward Hilary Knight on the world championship stage (so far!), making her the all-time goal-scoring leader in tournament history. Knight entered this year’s tournament with 43 goals to her name, just one shy of the record held by her idol and American hockey icon Cammi Granato. Knight scored goal No. 44 to tie Granato in Team USA’s 3-0 preliminary-round win over Finland, and officially surpassed her with No. 45 last Tuesday against ROC in a 6-0 rout. Granato scored her 44 world championship goals in 43 games over the course of nine tournaments between 1990 and 2005. Knight’s now played 58 games over 11 tournaments since she made her debut in 2007.

79: In addition to her goals record, Knight, — who has registered four goals and six points so far this year in Calgary — also bested Granato’s all-time worlds point total of 78. Passing Granato places Knight, 32, third in tournament history among all international players and well within reach of the top spot.

86: The all-time tournament points record belongs to Canada’s Hayley Wickenheiser, who tallied 37 goals and 86 points in 61 career world championship games. (Second place belongs to her longtime teammate Jayna Hefford with 83.)

100: Number of points tallied by Natalie Spooner on the international women’s hockey stage. She got her 100th point during Canada’s worlds victory over USA last Thursday, becoming the 14th Canadian woman to hit that milestone in hockey history.

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