International Ice Hockey Federation

WW Top 25 Stories: #19

WW Top 25 Stories: #19

IIHF makes Women’s Worlds official for 1990

Published 17.03.2015 18:59 GMT+1 | Author Andrew Podnieks
WW Top 25 Stories: #19
Susana Yuen is hosted up by her teammates after the Canadians defeated Team USA to win the 1990 IIHF Women's World Championship in Ottawa. Photo: Frank Gunn / Hockey Canada
27 April 1989. The Civic Centre (and four smaller arenas) in downtown Ottawa was host to the 1990 Women’s World Championship.

It was the first ever official women’s hockey tournament sanctioned by the IIHF. Its existence in the IIHF program was due to the success of the invitational tournament three years earlier which drew such rave reviews from all who witnessed or heard about the event that the IIHF realized it was time to include the women’s game under its international umbrella of events.

Fran Rider, president of the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association and founder of the unofficial 1987 event, continued to press for a true world tournament. The next stage was the 1989 European Women’s Championship in Dusseldorf and Ratingen, West Germany.

Rider attended as a guest of the hosts; a marketing agency was brought in to assess the viability of the event; and, IIHF President Dr Gunther Sabetzki was in attendance. The stands were full, and the games such a success that the IIHF decided to make that tournament a qualifier for a true Women’s World Championship to be held the following year in Ottawa.

At the IIHF’s Annual Congress in Stockholm, Sweden, 26-27 April 1989, it was agreed that the IIHF would establish an official Women’s World Championship and that Canada would be host of the first event, in 1990.

The Civic Centre was a perfect location. In Canada’s capital city, and home to the junior Ottawa 67’s, it was small enough to fill and big enough to impress. Many of the scores were not close, but the home side drew attention for wearing pink uniforms instead of the more traditional red and white. It was a marketing tool, to be sure, but it worked, and when Canada and the U.S. played in the gold-medal game, TSN had a dream final which attracted a sellout crowd of 8,784 to the arena and a TV audience of some one million people.

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Body-checking was allowed at that time, and the final was marked by big hits as much as pretty plays. But just as every great tournament needs a defining moment, so, too, did this 1990 final.

Geraldine Heaney, a smooth-skating, rushing defenceman with Canada, scored a highlight-reel goal, splitting the American defence and beating goalie Kelly Dyer as she flew over the goalie and the puck went in the goal. If anyone today sees one replay from 1990, this is it.

Awed by the fan support, American forward Cammi Granato noted after the game that it wasn’t one team that won in 1990 – it was the women’s game itself.

“What happened in women’s hockey is that we had a goal. It didn’t have borders. It didn’t have boundaries,” Rider articulated.

But that goal had one major pitfall. “One of the problems we faced all along,” Rider continued, “was that you need to broaden the base and get the grassroots going before you can have high performance. You couldn’t sever the two. Little girls around the world needed role models. The role models needed to be on television, in the newspaper. Young girls need to see and feel that if she can do that, I can do that. Once women’s hockey was on the world stage, and then finally accepted into the Olympics, it was an acceptable sport to do.”

Women of today can thank 1990 for that.

In celebration of the 25th anniversary of women's hockey in the IIHF, writer Andrew Podnieks is counting down the top 25 stories in women's international hockey history. One story each day will appear until the Number 1 story is unveiled the morning of the gold-medal game of the 2015 Women's Worlds in Malmo, Sweden, on April 4.

Earlier Top 25 Stories:
#20: Rogge issues challenge to women’s hockey
#21: IIHF goes to all-women officials
#22: Shannon Miller recruits Euros for NCAA
#23: IIHF introduces junior event for women
#24: Zorn a goalie and skater both
#25: Russia-Switzerland a dandy display in 2011


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