For any athlete, getting to the international stage and donning their country’s flag for one major sport is a huge accomplishment. Doing it in two sports is rare, but it’s certainly not unheard of.
And then there’s Susanna Tapani.
She represents her country in ice hockey, ringette, and inline hockey. She has medals in all of them. Let that sink in for a second.
At 24-years-old, Tapani is a two-time ringette world champion, three-time IIHF ice hockey bronze medalist, 2014 Olympian, and member of the first-ever Finnish women’s team to medal in inline hockey. She’s as well-rounded at rink sports as it gets.
Quantifying Tapani’s prowess by ice hockey numbers alone doesn’t do her justice. Take the 2015-16 season, for example. She scored seven points in five regular-season SM-Sarja (now Naisten Liiga) games with HPK Hämeenlinna and eight points in the playoffs. Internationally she had six points in nine games; nice but not earth-shattering. She was absent from the 2016 Worlds team.
Why? Because she was busy leading Finland to their second World Ringette Championship title, on home ice in Helsinki. Balancing club ringette and club hockey requires both sacrifices and prioritizing, but Tapani remains committed to both sports and has the hardware to back it up.
She joined the Finnish national program at age 15 and scored three goals at the 2009 IIHF World Women's U18 Championships. Two years later she was named an alternate captain for the U18 tournament, where she was also was named one of Finland’s Top Three players by the IIHF. That same year, in 2011, Tapani made her debut with the senior team and won her first World Championship bronze.
She played for Finland at the Sochi Olympics after spending a year at the University of North Dakota. She opted to continue her studies back home and returned to HPK for 2014-15, where her playmaking abilities shone in the postseason. Tapani scored 14 assists in six playoff games, along with seven goals, for 21 playoff points.
Tapani left HPK for Lukko in 2016. Lukko had a dreadful 2016-2017 season — just one win and two overtime wins in 28 games — but they scraped through to avoid relegation, helped by Tapani’s 10 goals in five games.
On the international stage last year, Tapani was instrumental in Finland’s historic 4-3 victory over Canada at the 2017 World Championships on April 1. She had a multipoint night with one goal and two assists and earned Player of the Game honors alongside Marie-Philip Poulin. She was the tournament’s leading scorer heading into the semifinals and finished in fifth place as Finland took home the bronze. She’s also part of arguably the best photo to come out of the tournament:
Any player who can make Poulin make that face is someone to keep an eye on.
Is this ranking too high or too low?
It’s too low. Tapani doesn’t command the type of attention her Naisleijonat teammates do, and she’s not as well known in North America as those who spent more time in the NCAA, but she’s a quiet force to be reckoned with. Look for her to be a major factor in PyeongChang.