Q&A with HPK’s Riikka Noronen

The Naisten Liiga’s all-time points leader talks longevity and more.

HPK Hämeenlinna captain Riikka Noronen’s hockey career spans almost a quarter-century. She’s been on the front lines to watch Finland’s SM-Sarja grow and evolve; now, in the SM-Sarja’s successor Naisten Liiga, she’s the all-time leading points leader in the leagues’ combined history with 709 points (305 goals and 404 assists) and counting.

Noronen, 36, spoke to The Ice Garden recently, offering insight on her career so far, her life away from the rink, and more.

What’s it like being the leading scorer in Naisten Liiga and SM-Sarja history?

I can’t think it like that — at least yet. I get points when the team is playing well and especially when I get to play with good chain friends, the playing comes fun and success follows it.

How much longer do you think you’ll keep playing?

I just look it by each season at the time — it depends how I get motivated and how my body stays healthy.

What are some memorable moments in your career so far?

Winning the league in 2011 with HPK is still well in my mind — we had a great team then.

What keeps you motivated?

I like playing ice hockey and doing together. There is always something, where you can learn and develop yourself.

How has HPK evolved since you last played for them?

Hm… I cannot say how developed, but players understand, that you need to work a lot then you can achieve something. The overall sportiness is seen and each one wants to be better each day, and that way the team is also better. Along with that, each one has the hunger and will to play for the team.

What’s your life like off-ice? What do you do for work, what do you like to do in your free time, things like that.

My life is busy — I work eight hours a day in a kindergarten which is sport accented, which support well ice hockey training. On top of that training four times a week and the games in the weekend, [it] leaves one free evening per week and then I like to be at home, just resting and doing homework.

What’s been the biggest adjustment to your game as you get older?

During the years, the training has became more versatile and have understand more what takes my playing forward. Faster playing and linearity has developed and most likely some sense has become also via the age.

What are your impressions on the style of play and the quality of young players in the Naisten Liiga over the last 10 years?

In the 90’s there was more individuals, who were making wins for the team — nowadays the game is faster and sportiness has came along as all players are in good shape and can play well for 60 minutes. Today you need all five [skaters] on the ice, that the game goes well and you can win matches.

What are some tricks of the trade you’ve learned during your career?

Nowadays, when having more age the maintenance work helps to perform better, so each day you don’t need to train sweaty training, but instead you must remember to care of your body to keep the legs moving!