On Monday the Finnish Ice Hockey Association released their 23-player roster for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.
Head coach Pasi Mustonen and Naisleijonat forward Venla Hovi were on hand at the press conference in Helsinki, where the roster was announced via video montage. It’s a good solid lineup without any major controversies. Let’s have a look.
Noora Räty, Meeri Räisänen, Eveliina Suonpää
Easily the most predictable choices on the roster. This is one scary goalie trio — the same one Finland iced at Sochi in 2014. While veterans Räty and Räisänen will most likely see the bulk of the playing time, 22-year-old Suonpää is both highly capable and accustomed to a heavy workload.
Isa Rahunen, Rosa Lindstedt, Jenni Hiirikoski, Mira Jalosuo, Ella Viitasuo, Minttu Tuominen, Ronja Savolainen
Finland plays a defense-focused game that relies on a combination of blue line skill, size, and playmaking ability. It certainly doesn’t hurt that some of the team’s best playmakers, like longtime team captain Jenni Hiirikoski, are wicked scorers.
Missing from the corps is 2014 Olympian and two-time Worlds bronze medalist Anna Kilponen. She’s only 22, though, so expect to see her in the future.
Venla Hovi, Linda Välimäki, Annina Rajahuhta, Riikka Välilä, Petra Nieminen, Emma Nuutinen, Sanni Hakala, Noora Tulus, Sara Säkkinen, Saila Saari, Michelle Karvinen, Tanja Niskanen, Susanna Tapani
No big deal, just some of the most dangerous scorers in the women’s game, a living legend, and some of Finland’s next generation. Move along, nothing to—
I kid, there’s a LOT to see here. Center Linda Välimäki is in the midst of yet another prolific season with 51 points in 21 games. Left wing Michelle Karvinen is averaging 1.88 points per game. Riikka Välilä is, at 44 years old, captain of HV71 in the SDHL and an absolute treasure of the game. She won bronze with Finland at the inaugural women’s hockey Olympics in 1998.
Finland plays their first match of the tournament on February 11 against the United States.