From Lock to Lion: Eveliina Suonpää signs with Linköping HC

Naisleijonat goaltender and two-time Olympian moves to Sweden.

Olympic bronze medalist Eveliina Suonpää has signed with the SDHL’s Linköping HC after spending the last two years with the Naisten Liiga’s Rauman Lukko, she announced Wednesday.

Suonpää, 23, teased an upcoming change of scenery Tuesday on Instagram, when she thanked the Lukko organization and praised the city of Rauma.

“I’m very glad that Eveliina signed for us. She’s a good goalie, quite big, and moves well in net. And I hope and believe she can develop and take the next step in her career here in Linköping,” head coach Madeleine Östling told The Ice Garden.

This is an interesting signing both for Suonpää and LHC. The club made it all the way to the SDHL Finals this year, due in no small part to Swiss goaltender Florence Schelling’s outstanding play all season long. Schelling has been the undisputed starter for several  years; at 29 years old she’s still putting up great numbers and earned the SDHL’s Goaltender of the Year honors for 2017-18. Her plans for next season are currently unknown.

Suonpää, meanwhile, is used to a heavy workload and facing a lot of shots on a regular basis. She’s spent the past two seasons backstopping a very young team hovering near the bottom of the Naisten Liiga standings. While she hasn’t seen the international ice time Schelling has, Suonpää has been a staple in Finland’s program for years and represents the future of Finnish netminding. It will be fascinating to see what she can do with a more talented and more seasoned club team in front of her.