Here’s an eye-opening statistic: in 18 games this season, KalPa captain Tanja Niskanen has 40 assists. No big deal, right? A forward with an ever-growing knack for playmaking, she leads both her team and Finland’s Naisten Liiga in points with 64 (24 goals in addition to her heaps of assists).
Niskanen tends to keep a low profile on social media, but she was kind enough to answer a few questions and give The Ice Garden some insight into her season so far.
For our American readers who aren’t as familiar with European players, could you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m Tanja Niskanen and I’m 26 years old. I come from Juankoski, but now I live in Kuopio. In addition to ice hockey, I work at the Finnish Air Forces. My daily schedule consists of working and training for hockey.
What are your interests off-ice?
In my free time I like to see my family and friends. I also like to be at home and cook good food, when there is time for it.
You’re having a great season so far and KalPa’s been near the top of the standings. What do you attribute that success to?
It’s hard to say just one good reason for a good season so far. I have had a great training season in the summer and I know that I’m in good shape. That’s why I have more self-confidence and the results will come. We have a good team in KalPa and the team’s game works well. We practice well and our team spirit is great.
How has having 10 teams changed the Naisten Liiga? What’s the competition level like now?
It’s good that there are new teams in the women’s league because now the league is bigger. It is obvious that there are skill difference between teams. In every game you have to give your best.
What’s your favorite hockey memory?
Ice hockey has given me many good memories, but one of the best memory associated with hockey is the Olympic Games and the bronze medal that we won there.
Do you have any special goals for this season?
The main goal of the season is the World Championships, which are here in Finland. I hope that I belong to the team because it would be great to be able to play in front of the home audience. Of course another goal is to succeed with KalPa.