Plymouth — The International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championship is heading to Metro Detroit for the first time in the tournament’s history.
USA Hockey executive director Dave Ogrean made the announcement Thursday that USA Hockey Arena will be the site for the 2017 event.
The tournament, which is tentatively scheduled for April 1-8, will feature 22 games, eight nations and the best female players in the world.
“When we acquired this building (in April 2015) what was in our mind’s eye was that certain IIHF championship events would be perfect in a building of this size, in addition to the fact that we’re at ground zero for a heck of a lot of enthusiastic hockey fans,” Ogrean said. “When we decided to bid for the Women’s World Championship, we knew we just wanted to bring it here. I think we’re going to have a fabulous experience, our decision will be validated and it will definitely not be the last of what you see.”
Ogrean said once USA Hockey received the right to host the tournament, there was never a thought to solicit other interests for the bid.
“It’s great to be in this town,” Ogrean said. “It’s wonderful to have Plymouth as our new home and we appreciate the support of Plymouth Township very much.”
Plymouth will be the fourth U.S. city to host the World Championship, joining Burlington, Vt. (2012), Minneapolis (2001) and Lake Placid, N.Y. (1994).
Since the tournament began in 1990, the U.S. is 65-14-1, and has played Canada in the gold medal match all 16 times.
Team USA has won the past two tournaments (2013 and 2015), and claimed five of the last six gold medals.
“We like to have a home ice advantage ... but it doesn’t always work out in our favor,” Ogrean said. “Hopefully we can have another first recorded here in Michigan next year. But it’s easier on our players and it’s easier on their parents who all want to come see them. Certainly to have it in a building we now own is a great plus and I think everybody is more comfortable at home.”
The event will be the U.S. Women National Team’s last tournament before the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
“Our players work and train all year long to be able to get the opportunity to be on that team and compete for their country,” said Reagan Carey, director of women’s hockey for USA Hockey. “It’s certainly the biggest event we get to compete in outside the Olympic Games.
“There were 4.9 million viewers who watched the U.S. women’s game (against Canada) in the Sochi Olympics gold medal game. ... You can take my word for it or can ask a few other million people, but I suggest you come and watch that game live. To be able to do that is something special.”
The U.S. kicks off its title defense March 28 in Kamloops, British Columbia, against Team Canada in the 2016 IIHF Women’s World Championship. Team USA’s placing will determine its seed for 2017.
USA Hockey officials announced there also will be renovations made to USA Hockey Arena before the tournament, including a new sound system and possibly new boards.
“We want to make it into a model showcase for all the arenas in the country,” said Jim Smith, president of USA Hockey.
In addition to the 2017 IIHF Women’s World Championship, USA Hockey revealed USA Hockey Arena will host its U.S. junior camp this summer (July 29-Aug. 9). The camp, which has been held in Lake Placid the past 20 years, features the best players under 20 and will be used to prepare for the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship in Toronto and Montreal.
The Under-17 Five Nations Tournament, which the arena hosted Feb. 9-13, also will return Nov. 1-5 and feature the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Switzerland and the U.S.
“If what we did with the Five Nations Tournament last weekend is any indication of what next April will be like,” Plymouth Township supervisor Shannon Price said, “we got great things to come.”
IIHF Women’s World Championship
When: April 1-8, 2017 (subject to change)
Where: USA Hockey Arena, Plymouth
Outlook: Team USA will look to extend its dominance and win its first gold medal on home soil. ... Plymouth will be the fourth U.S. city to host the tournament since its inception in 1990.