By the numbers: Looking at the Canada-U.S. rivalry ahead of WWHC gold medal game

Canada's goalie Ann-Renee Desbiens, left, blocks a shot from Kendall Coyne Schofield, of the United States, during third period gold medal final IIHF Women's World Championship hockey action in Calgary, Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021. (Jeff McIntosh/CP)

There’s no better rivalry in hockey than that between Canada and the United States on the women’s international stage.

And this year, after being treated to an incredible showdown at the Olympic Games this winter, we’re in for another summer showcase as hockey’s best go head-to-head in Denmark on Sunday to determine who claims gold at the 2022 IIHF Women’s World Championship.

Ahead of puck drop, here’s a by-the-numbers look at Canada-USA at the worlds when gold is on the line.

1: This year marks the first time the IIHF is holding a women’s world championship in an Olympic year. After back-to-back COVID-induced cancellations, the hockey world is lucky to get an extra fix of elite international hockey this year.

3-1: Canada’s record after round-robin play, placing them second in the standings heading into the elimination round after losing to the Americans in the preliminary finale. Team USA is undefeated at the tournament this year.

5: Last August, Team Canada claimed gold for the first time in a decade, ending Team USA’s streak of five straight golds at the tournament. That golden streak represented a shift atop the women’s hockey world with the Americans setting the standard. In the tournament’s early days, beginning with the inaugural event in 1990, Canada consistently took the top spot — they won eight straight gold medals, but since that streak ended in 2005 they’ve won it just three times.

7-11-18: That’s the stat line of Team USA forward Taylor Heise, who leads this year’s tournament across the board. This is Heise’s first appearance at the worlds, and considering her overwhelming success it’s safe to say it’s not her last.

8: In 20 WWHC final meetings between Canada and the United States, eight have gone into overtime — including their past three gold medal meetings — with one (2005) requiring a shootout to settle the score.

10: Sarah Fillier, with her five goals and five assists, is Canada’s top scorer at the tournament so far with 10 points.

11-9: Over the course of 20 previous world championship tournaments since the event’s inception in 1990, Canada and the U.S. are the only two nations to have claimed its top prize, with the Canucks sitting at 11 worlds golds to Team USA’s nine. That tradition will continue once again this year with the rivalry renewing on Sunday.

20: This is now the 20th time Canada and the U.S. have met in the gold-medal game. The only year we didn’t have a cross-border battle for gold was in 2019 when Canada lost in the semifinal to Finland and went on to claim bronze against the ROC. Last year’s tournament, the first since 2019 due to COVID cancellations, marked Canada’s rebound back on top.

21: USA has never missed out on playing in the gold medal game at the women’s worlds. It earned its 21st consecutive berth in the tournament’s final with Saturday’s 10-1 win over Czechia.

29: You can’t talk about Canada-USA gold medal games without talking about the great No. 29, Marie-Philip Poulin. We all know her track record on the Olympic stage: She’s scored the game-winning goal in Canada’s last three golden victories at the Games (2010, 2014, 2022). It would surprise exactly no one if she were to give the world championship the same treatment. After all, Canada’s golden victory at last August’s worlds to break America’s win streak was scored by non other than Captain Clutch herself… in overtime, of course. After two straight goalless games this tournament, Poulin potted a pair of markers against Switzerland on Saturday. Just getting warmed up?

47: Through four round-robin games and two in the elimination round, Team USA has been absolutely dominant offensively, outscoring opponents by a cumulative score of 52-5 for a goal differential of plus-47. Canada has outscored opponents 30-8. 

87: With her 87th career WWHC point Thursday against Hungary, Hilary Knight set a new tournament record for all time points on the women’s world championship stage, passing Hayley Wickenheiser’s 86. Knight added two more goals against Czechia on Saturday to bring her total up to 89.

2004: The last time Canada successfully defended its world championship title was in 2004, after previously winning the 2001 tournament. (There was no WWHC in 2002 due to the Olympics, and 2003’s event was cancelled due to a SARS outbreak.)

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