2024 Worlds Recap: Team Finland

A rocky tournament couldn't keep Finland from reaching their goals.

2024 Worlds Recap: Team Finland
Team Finland celebrating their bronze medal and honoring teammate Sanni Hakala with her #23. PHOTO: IIHF

After a two-year medal drought, Team Finland returned to the podium take their 14th World Championship bronze. While this was far from Finland's best tournament, they pushed through adversity and got it done in the end.

Final Record

Finland finished fourth in Group A with a 1-3 record in the preliminary round. They defeated Switzerland 3-1 in the quarterfinals then fell 0-5 to the USA in the semis. The bronze medal game against defending repeat bronze medal holders Czechia went to a shootout, with Finland ultimately taking the win 3-2.

Team MVP

In a year where Finland's scoring was way down (they scored 15 goals this year compared to 38 in last year's tournament) goaltender Sanni Ahola stepped up to give her team a chance. She played six games for the Naisleijonat and registered 367:49 of ice time, the third-most minutes played among goalies at the tournament behind Czechia's Klára Peslarová and the USA's Aerin Frankel. Speaking of Ahola...

Key Moment

Ahola's shootout save against Czechia forward Denisa Křížová to seal the bronze for the Naisleijonat.

What's Next?

Finland faces an interesting few years. Generational change is always hard, but looking at a future that doesn't include Hall of Fame locks (or players who should be locks, if the selection committee wasn't so pale, male, and stale) is another beast entirely.

The Naisleijonat captain, talisman, leader, and best defender on planet Earth — Jenni Hiirikoski — just turned 37 in March. Hiirikoski just signed a two-year extension with Luleå/MSSK in the SDHL, but as much as I like to claim she's an immortal elf queen there's simply no denying that her career is entering its waning years. Forward stalwarts Michelle Karvinen and Susanna Tapani are both over 30.

On the flip side, the younger forward corps, with the likes of Elisa Holopainen, Viivi Vainikka, and Jenniina Nylund, has proven they can be extremely dangerous.

Finland's Elisa Holopainen battling in front of Czechia's net. PHOTO: IIHF

Where to Watch Team Finland's Stars

The majority of Team Finland play their club hockey in Europe: 10 players were rostered to SDHL teams in Sweden for the 2023–24 season, with eight playing at home in the Naisten Liiga. The remaining four players, including Ahola, are all in the NCAA.

Star forward Tapani is currently the only member of the team to play in the PWHL, but look for that to change next year. Noora Tulus and Ronja Savolainen both recently departed their longtime club Luleå/MSSK, and Tulus has indicated she wants to come to North America. Seeing Savolainen join Tulus in the PWHL wouldn't be shocking.

Forward Holopainen is moving from KalPa in the Naisten Liiga over to Frölunda in the SDHL, where she recently signed a one-year deal. At only 22 years old she's already so deadly; keep an eye on her in the SDHL as her game grows. She'll be joined there by her former KalPa teammate, defender Sanni Rantala.