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Q & A with Team Finland’s Mira Jalosuo

Defenseman Mira Jalosuo looks for more success: “We know we can beat everyone in this tournament.”

Defenseman Mira Jalosuo poses with goalie Noora Räty, her Naisleijonat teammate.
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So, [Team Finland] has beaten Canada twice now, both times in international play this year.

Yeah, but one time we beat them in January or something like that. It was their so-called B Team, I think there is only three, four, five, max five players from that team here, so it’s obviously much more special to beat the senior team. Those are the best players from Canada.

What do you see as the team’s biggest challenges going through the rest of the tournament? Obviously Team USA will be another big test tomorrow.

I think if we are confident, obviously yesterday was a huge confidence builder for us, [we can win]. I’m not too worried. We know we can beat everyone in this tournament, we have already beaten the US a few times, and now finally we beat Canada, so we really know that we have a great team. We have four good lines, obviously our goaltending is phenomenal, and our defense is good, so nothing to worry [about].

After the second period, Coach Pasi Mustonen was standing on the bench with his arms outstretched. It was neat to watch.

I don’t know if it was because he was happy, but I think there should have been a penalty, so I think that was his reaction for it.

What was his message going into the third period?

Just extend the lead. We are not gonna just back off and play defense. It’s a fact that you’re not going to win anything if you just sit back and play D. You gotta create some offense and try to score more goals.

Especially against Canada, you can’t sit back.

Oh yeah, their offense is great, but their defense is definitely their weakness.

Coach Mustonen is an interesting man. He doesn’t seem to mince his words with the media or anyone else. How does that direct style help the team?

I think at first we were kind of struggling with that one. Obviously, we are women, and we are not very good [at] taking direct feedback. For the guys, you can tell [them] you didn’t have a good game, but for the girls, you have to be more careful what you’re saying, because it doesn’t usually do any good for the team if you’re telling it like, “all right, today was not your day, but you have to be better,” [which puts] the pressure on. But, he has been our coach for...this is his third year, we are getting used to it, and I think it’s showing up now.

There’s been a huge amount of news around women’s hockey lately, with the US Women’s National Team and the news about the University of North Dakota cutting their women’s program. What’s the mood been like with the team, and how are you staying focused?

Well, you know, we’re playing at the World Championship games. We can’t let that kind of stuff get into our heads. We are just focusing on our team. The USA stuff doesn’t matter for us, it’s not our thing. Obviously we have a few players from UND, we’re going to help those girls and make sure that they’re okay, but other than that, like, we can think about it in a week. Not right now.

How do you feel about the new women’s league in Finland that was announced recently?

They changed the name. It’s the same league, same thing but they changed the name to create kind of like a new brand.

Will there be any additional funding going into that league?

No, that’s more like the hope. Just make it sound a little bit more professional.

What are you plans for next year? Does Team Finland centralize like the USA and Canada?

No, we don’t centralize. It’s a lot of money, and we have jobs, and some people have kids, some people are still in school. I don’t think it would work for us to be together for a whole eight months, six months, whatever it is before the Olympics, so I’m happy that we are not centralizing. We have a camp every month for a week, and I think that’s the best thing for us.

Who are some Finnish players North American fans should watch for during the tournament?

Well obviously, Petra Nieminen, Number 11. She’s a young kid, [who is] for sure gonna play D1 hockey in two years. Sanni Hakala scored a goal yesterday. She’s a great kid, I think she was born in ‘95, something like that. We have a lot of young players who have good talent, and obviously everyone knows Susanna Tapani, Michelle Karvinen, Noora [Räty]...[they] are just great players.