Tampereen Ilves captain and Team Finland center Linda Välimäki scored her 300th Naisten Liiga goal this weekend.
“It's great to be back in Tampere and Ilves, of course,” she told The Ice Garden after her team’s weekend sweep against Kuortane and Lukko. “Winning and scoring always [feels] good, especially [at a] home game.”
Anyone who has followed Finnish women’s hockey over the past decade is familiar with Välimäki’s deft and dangerous scoring touch. She’s a five-time winner of the Naisten Liiga’s Tiia Reima Award for Most Goals, which is second only to the legendary Karoliina Rantamäki’s eight times.
Oh, and she’s won it the past four years in a row. No big deal.
Today was the last training session in Tesuma before the start of the league, which ended with the home team's 4-0 victory over Rauman Lukko.
Välimäki, 27, returned to Ilves and the city of Tampere after playing seven years with the Blues and Espoo United in the Naisten SM-Sarja (now Naisten Liiga). She racked up 294 goals and 279 assists for 573 points in the Naisten SM-Sarja and has 13 points so far in the Naisten Liiga’s inaugural season.
In addition to league play, she’s also looking ahead to her third Olympic appearance with Team Finland. Välimäki told The Ice Garden she’s stepped up her workouts in preparation and stated,
“In this season, my one and only target is to be [an] Olympic medalist and Finnish champion with my teammates in Ilves.”
Välimäki and her Ilves teammate Sari Kärnä will join Team Finland for the three-game Finnkampen series against Sweden starting Wednesday in Mariehamn, Åland.