By the Numbers: Checking in on Canada-U.S. rivalry before WWHC gold-medal game

Canada forward Sarah Nurse (20) gets stopped by USA goaltender Aerin Frankel (31) during first period IIHF Women's World Hockey Championship hockey action in Brampton, Ont., on Monday, April 10, 2023. (Nathan Denette/CP)

A rematch of a rematch of a rematch of a rematch… 

The defending gold and silver medallists have made it back to the championship game once again at the Women’s Worlds. Team Canada and Team USA won their respective semifinal matchups Saturday and are set to add yet another chapter to their longstanding rivalry Sunday in Utica, New York. 

It will surely be an entertaining gold-medal game, with only one team satisfied by the prospect of repeating last year’s results. The U.S. wants to stay golden in front of the home crowd, while Canada hopes to play the spoiler and seek revenge.

Here is a by-the-numbers look at how these two teams have performed at this year’s tournament and some of the history that exists between them. 

0: Team USA goaltender Aerin Frankel has allowed zero goals in four of her five starts this year. The feat marks a new record for most shutouts in a single tournament in Women’s Worlds history. 

1: The last meeting between these two teams, which was just six days ago in the preliminary round of the tournament, saw Team USA come out on top with a 1-0 win over Canada in overtime. 

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2: Canada last won gold at this event two years ago, when it was held in Denmark. They beat the U.S. 2-1 with two goals from Brianne Jenner. 

3: After losing to Canada in back-to-back gold-medal games in 2021 and 2022, the United States returned to the top spot last year, winning the championship by a three-goal margin. The 6-3 result marked the highest-scoring gold-medal game at the Women’s Worlds since 2015, when the U.S. won 7-5 over Canada. 

4: Since Canada and the United States are in the same group for round-robin play, only one team can ultimately come out undefeated. This year, it was the United States who won all four contests, earning the top spot in Group A entering the playoff round. 

5. The tournament’s leading goal scorers this year are currently Team USA’s Alex Carpenter and Laila Edwards. Both forwards have scored five goals in six games and each has recorded one hat trick.

6: The rivalry and dominance of these two countries does not just exist on the Women’s Worlds stage. Team USA and Canada have battled for gold at the Olympic Winter Games six (out of seven) times. Canada won gold in four of those games (2022, 2014, 2010 and 2002) while the U.S. won twice (2018 and 1998). The one outlier was 2006. In that year, Canada and Sweden met in the gold-medal game (which Canada won), while the U.S. played for bronze (which they won). 

8. Extra time has been needed to decide the result of a gold-medal game between Canada and the U.S. eight times. Seven games were solved in overtime (1997, 2000, 2011, 2012, 2016, 2017, 2021) and just one ended in a shootout (2005). 

7: Another avenue of competition for Canada and the U.S. is the aptly named Rivalry Series, which has been held four times. The 2023-24 edition saw the Canadians beat the Americans in seven games by pulling off a reverse sweep for the second year in a row. The decisive Game 7 took place in February at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, where Canada defeated Team USA with a dominant 6-1 showing. 

9. Canada has had 16 power-play opportunities but has only managed to score once, which ranks them ninth out of 10 teams at the tournament with a power-play percentage of 6.25 per cent.

10: The United States has claimed gold at the Women’s Worlds a total of 10 times (2005, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019, 2021). 

12: Canada has claimed gold at the Women’s Worlds a total of 12 times (1990, 1992, 1994, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2012, 2021, 2022). 

21: Team USA captain Hilary Knight, who wears jersey No. 21, played a major role in her squad’s gold-medal win last year. She scored a second-period goal to tie the game up at 2-2 and then followed it up with two back-to-back goals in the third period to record a hat trick. Her second goal put the Americans up 4-3 and ultimately stood as the game-winner. She sits second in tournament scoring heading into this year’s gold-medal matchup, with three goals and six assists over six games. 

22. Sunday’s championship final will mark the 22nd time that Canada and the U.S. have played each other for gold at the Women’s Worlds. The only year they did not meet was in 2019, when Team USA played Finland in the gold-medal game (a 2-1 shootout win for the U.S.), and Canada played Russia in the bronze-medal game (a 7-0 win for the Canadians). 

31. The Americans lead the tournament in scoring efficiency with 31 goals in six games, which is not overly surprising since they also lead in shots on goal with 281. 

36. Sunday will also mark the 36th all-time meeting between these two teams at the tournament. Out of the previous 35 meetings, the United States won 18 and Canada won 17.

46. The all-time record for assists at the Women’s Worlds belongs to Canada’s Hayley Wickenheiser, who recorded 49 over her international career. Team USA’s Knight and Kendall Coyne Schofield are tied for second on the list with 46 each. The gold-medal game is another chance for the two players to inch closer to the record – or potentially even break it with a multi-assist effort. 

67. Another stat the United States led the tournament in is penalty minutes. The team has accumulated 67 penalty minutes through their 21 two-minute infractions and one five-minute major (and game misconduct). The major penalty was handed down to Kirsten Simms for checking from behind in their round-robin game against Czechia.  

98. Coincidentally enough, as it currently stands, there is zero goal differential between Canada and the U.S. over their 35 total Women’s Worlds games. Both teams have scored 98 goals against their opponent but have also allowed 98 goals against them. Of course, that will no longer be the case after Sunday’s tournament finale. 

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