Goaltender Noora Räty re-signed with the CWHL’s Kunlun Red Star on Sunday, per YLE Sport and Räty’s Instagram story.
The Espoo, Finland native is one of the Chinese initiative’s “sports ambassadors” and will serve as coach and mentor in addition to playing for the team. She’s the second goaltender to sign with Kunlun Red Star this offseason, following Princeton alumna Kimberly Newell.
Räty, 29, played 20 games for KRS last season and posted a league-leading .944 save percentage to earn the CWHL’s 2018 Goaltender of the Year honors.
While this is undoubtedly a great signing for KRS, it raises further questions about China’s plans to actually develop their own goaltenders. Räty, being a Finn, is not about to be in China’s goal at the Beijing Olympics, and Newell, while of Chinese heritage, is a Canadian citizen and not yet eligible to represent China on the international stage. Both of KRS’s Chinese-born goaltenders, Yuqing Wang and Siye He, are spending their summer in Minnesota training with Räty, but how much playing time and in-game experience will they get next season in order to develop further? Only time will tell.