The end of the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL) and National Women's Hockey League (NWHL) seasons in the last month marked the end of the women's hockey calendar year once again, but what a year it was.
An Olympic year meant that a lot of the top talent in professional women's hockey leagues was away from their respective teams training with the national team programs for competition in PyeongChang.
Canada and the United States exchanged wins over and over again in friendly games leading up to the Olympics, while other countries continued their training elsewhere in hopes of knocking the two powerhouses off their throne.
While they may not have been successful, competition was closer in PyeongChang than ever before in women's hockey. Every country involved showed promise at one point or another and the scores indicated that the disparity between countries is shrinking rapidly.
The biggest surprise was the United States ending Canada's run of four consecutive gold medals and claiming the top spot in a 3-2 shootout win.
It was quite the year for the women's national team in the United States. Earlier in the year they had threatened to boycott the Olympics in a negotiating battle with USA Hockey to earn better pay and treatment for their players, and were eventually succesful, creating a better world of women's hockey for now and tomorrow.
Even with top players being away from North American leagues for the Olympics, competition was as fierce as ever.
The CWHL made waves in the women's hockey world, adding two new teams from China - Kunlun Red Star and Vanke Rays, in an effort to grow the game on a global level. Expectations weren't as high for these two teams as they were entering the league for the first time, but Kunlun Red Star was shockingly able to advance all the way to the Clarkson Cup Final.
This is, however, where their fairystale story came to an end, as the Markham Thunder were able to defeat them 2-1 to claim the title.
Perhaps more importantly in the CWHL, was the league announcing pay for all players leading into the 2017-18 season, a significant step in the right direction for the game.
In the NWHL, The Metropolitan Riveters won their first NWHL Championship in dramatic fashion, knocking off the defending Isobel Cup Champion Buffalo Beauts 1-0.
The Riveters finished in last place in the league’s inaugural season and slowly but surely they rose up, and have now laid the foundation for the franchise’s bright future.
It was a fantastic year overall for the world of women's hockey. The fierce and passionate people involved in the game continue to take the sport in the right direction.
We at CARHA Hockey cannot wait for what is next.