Hilary Knight 

Hilary Knight 

Sara Melikian, Wikimedia Commons

The best American women's hockey players will compete at the 2017 Women's World Hockey Championships in Plymouth, Michigan. The United States national women's hockey team threatened not to participate at the World Championships that start Friday,  but were able to reach an agreement with USA Hockey on Tuesday. 

The American women will receive a minimum of $2,000 per month and more performance bonuses for winning medals. They will also be given business class travel, something high-performance American men's hockey players had already been receiving for international tournaments. The deal, which will be for four years, will also see a women's high-performance advisory group created which will help advance girls' hockey at the youth level. 

The United States national women's hockey team got support for their cause over the past week from 16 American senators who pressured USA Hockey, and the unions from the players' associations in the National Hockey League, National Football League, National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball. 

Now the focus will be on the ice. The United States open their tournament Friday against their archrivals from Canada. They will then play Russia on Saturday and Finland on Monday. The gold medal game will take place on April 7. Ironically, the arena in Plymouth is called USA Hockey Arena. 

The United States have won seven women's world championship gold medals but none on American ice. Team Canada have won each of the three World Women's Hockey Championships in the United States--in 1994 in Lake Placid, in 2001 in Minneapolis and in 2012 in Burlington, Vermont. A gold medal for the Americans will give them significant confidence as they prepare for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang.