United States hockey superstar Hilary Knight has made history as the inaugural recipient of the IIHF’s Female Player of the Year award, the international body announced Thursday morning.
Knight, 33, is an absolute stalwart in the sport, trailing perhaps only Canada’s Marie-Philip Poulin as the best active women’s hockey player on this side of the Atlantic. Per the IIHF, she received an overwhelming 40.9% of the total votes for the award.
Knight expressed her gratitude for being named the award’s initial recipient:
I am honored to be the first recipient of such a prestigious award. There are many talented women at this level, and it is a privilege to be recognized as the IIHF Female Player of the Year. Reflecting on this year it’s hard to pinpoint one highlight, rather a collection of memories shared with my teammates. I am grateful to be a part of such an incredible group and share these special moments with my friends. The sport and the women who play it deserve the largest stage and biggest spotlight. My hope is that the sport continues to grow and reach greater heights. Although hockey is a team sport, having awards and accolades that acknowledge accomplishments help drive more visibility. Thank you, IIHF, for creating this award, as it is important to recognize outstanding athletic performances.
The voting process involved members of the media from 16 IIHF member countries. Knight’s outstanding performances throughout the year, including her display at the 2023 Women’s World Championship in Brampton, earned her the award. She led all players at the tournament with eight goals in seven games, the tournament-record fifth time she’s achieved the feat.
Three of those eight goals came in the gold medal game against Canada. Her second goal in that game was the game-winner and marked her third game-winning goal in an IIHF Women’s World Championship gold medal game, another tournament record.
Across her career, Knight is a nine-time gold medallist at the Women’s Worlds, a one-time gold medallist and three-time silver medallist at the Olympics, and an Isobel Cup champion with the Boston Pride in 2016.