The evolution in women’s sports over the last decade was long overdue. Perhaps catapulted by UFC turned WWE star Ronda Rousey, women’s sporting events have never had more of a spotlight shone on them. For years, women weren’t even allowed to compete in ice hockey at the Olympic Games, and they had to wait right the way up until 1998 for their first chance to steal the spotlight. That is exactly what they did at the Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan. Nowadays, when it comes to women’s ice hockey, the Olympics are the ultimate stage for the world’s best female – and male – players. Over the years, various nations have had their fair share of success. But which nations have been the most dominant and successful on the ice?
It should come as no surprise that Canada tops the list of the most successful nations in women’s ice hockey at the Olympics, and they do so by some distance. Just like the Maple Leafs’ male team, who are regularly made the favorites in their matches by Bovada hockey lines and futures, the Canadians shine brightly when they’re center stage. In the seven Olympic Games that have featured women’s ice hockey, they have won gold a whopping five times. Their success is even more impressive when you consider it as a percentage, Canada has romped to gold 71% of the time.
Between 2002 and 2014, Canada won four straight golds, powering their way to the crown in Torino, Sochi, on home turf in Vancouver and vanquishing the home favorites USA in Salt Lake
City. Their roster over the years has featured some of the greatest players in the history of the women’s game, including Hayley Wickenheiser, Jayna Hefford, and Cassie Campbell-Pascall. It looked as though their dominance may have slipped slightly in recent years, especially when the United States beat them in Pyeongchang five years ago. But the Canadians returned to their
throne last year with a nerve-racking 3-2 victory against the Americans in Beijing.
The United States has been Canada’s biggest rival ever since women were allowed to compete in the sport on the grandest stage. As such, it will come as no surprise that they are the second most successful nation in history. The Americans have won two gold medals since 1998 and as mentioned, their most recent gold came back in 2018, when they defeated their greatest rival in Pyeongchang, South Korea, following a nail-biting penalty shootout.
They also stunned their neighbors in the first-ever final back in 1998, when a blistering Gretchen Ulion hat trick secured a 3-1 victory and a maiden gold medal. Unfortunately for them, however, they have been beaten finalists on no fewer than four occasions. And to make matters worse, they lost to their archrivals on each occasion. The US has had several superstars on its roster throughout the years, including the likes of the Ulion, as well as Cammi Granato, Angela Ruggiero, and Brianna Decker. While they fell just short of the gold medal in the most recent Olympics in China, their rivalry with Canada has produced some of the most entertaining and competitive games in the history of ice hockey, despite losing on more occasions than they’ve won.
Moving on from North America, we come to Finland, which is the third-most-successful nation in the history of women’s ice hockey. While the Scandinavian outfit has never won a gold medal – or even appeared in the big game for that matter – they have reached the bronze medal match in all but one Olympic Games. Of those third-place playoff appearances, they have been
victorious on four occasions.
Some of Finland’s notable players include the likes of Riikka Sallinen, Karoliina Rantamaki, and Meeri Raisanen. And while they may not have the same level of success as Canada and the United States, they have consistently been a competitive team throughout the last quarter of a century and all they are missing from their medal haul is an appearance in the biggest game in women’s international ice hockey, the gold medal match.
Finally, we come to Sweden. Unlike their Scandinavian neighbors, the Swedes appeared in the gold medal match. They reached the showpiece event in Torino back in 2006. After stunning the Americans in overtime in the semifinals, they faced off against heavy favorites Canada in the final. But unfortunately for them, they would come up just short, with goals from Gillian Apps, Caroline Ouellette, Cherie Piper, and Jayna Hefford eventually securing a convincing 4-1 victory for the queens of hockey.
Some may feel that Sweden should be positioned in third on this list, as they have technically gone one better than their rivals from Finland. However, we welt that the Finns’ four bronze outweighs Sweden’s haul of one silver and one bronze, a bronze medal which came back in 2002 when they defeated their Scandinavian neighbors by two goals to one in Salt Lake City. Sweden’s best players include household names such as Pernilla Winberg, Lina Wester, and Kim Martin Hasson.