When Finnish forward Susanna Tapani appeared on The Ice Garden’s Top 25 Under 25 list in 2017, yours truly had this to say:
She represents her country in ice hockey, ringette, and inline hockey. She has medals in all of them. Let that sink in for a second.
Two years, another Olympic bronze, and a historic IIHF Women’s World Championship silver medal later, that statement holds true as ever. She spent the regular 2018-2019 season with TPS Turku in Finland, then headed to Linköping HC for the SDHL playoffs last spring. Now, Tapani looks ahead to the inaugural Aurora Games as a member of Team World.
How was your experience in the SDHL? How was it different or similar to the Naisten Liiga?
My experience in the SDHL was excellent! I only played there during the playoffs and the level of hockey was very high, especially the level of the final series. It can be considered one of the highest in Europe, if not the whole world, at this moment in women’s hockey. In SDHL the facilities are more professional than in Naisten Liiga. There are more spectators in the games and the final series were shown on national TV. I think SDHL is, at this moment, ahead of Naisten Liiga when considered the level of hockey, sponsorship and professionalism in general.
Would you consider re-signing in Sweden for a full season?
I could re-sign for a full season for sure. I really enjoyed my time in Linköping and I feel that the environment is very good when you want to develop as a player. I also have everything well-organized in Turku but we’ll see what the future has to offer.
How old were you when you started playing hockey? What about ringette? What sparked those interests?
I started playing ringette in a club team when I was six years old. My mother played ringette as a goalie so I think that sparked that interest. There wasn’t any girls’ hockey in my hometown and all the girls played ringette. I started playing hockey when I was around 14 years old. One of the boys’ team coaches asked if I wanted to try hockey with them. I had only tried it couple times with my brother and it wasn’t easy to be [the] only girl in the boys team as a teenager either.
I think learning new things and the possibility to be on the ice more were the reasons that made me continue. The boys took me well to the team and I played with them during the high school, and my brother also joined the same team. I had to move away from home at the age of 16 so that I was able to play two sports. I practiced hockey with the boys in the morning and ringette in the evenings.
I also play inline hockey, soccer, floorball, tennis, etc. in the summer, but ringette and hockey have always been my main sports. I studied in the sport-oriented schools which helped me to balance studying and sports. I spend all my free time with my friends and family and they help me balance the rest of my life.
How did you get connected with the Aurora Games? What are your hopes for the event?
I connected with the Aurora Games through my teammate Venla Hovi who is helping to gather the teams. I don’t have any specific hopes for the event but I believe it will be an awesome experience and a good promotion for women’s sports.