“Anna is like the biggest perfectionist I know. I used to be her teammate, but now as her coach anything she does - whether it's on the ice, at practice, or off the ice - she does it with a purpose and great attention to detail,” Metropolitan Riveters Head Coach Venla Hovi told us about defender Anna Kilponen.
“She’s someone who leads by example, a little introverted and quiet, but when you watch her on a daily basis she is doing all of the little things right all the time. Having her here, she is a great example for the whole team.”
Kilponen joined the PHF this off-season with nine years of pro hockey experience, as well as a few Olympic Games as well, and she is a part of a brand-new Riveters blueline that features six players who weren’t on the team last season. She also isn’t a stranger to playing in North America either, having spent time playing at the collegiate level for the University of North Dakota and Quinnipiac University as well. Kilponen is one of a handful of talented Finns who have joined the Riveters and brought their skills to the PHF.
Our travel day in 50sec. 🤪 https://t.co/Vxw3uxGnCn— Eveliina Mäkinen (@EveliinaSuonpaa) September 10, 2022
Following the Riveters’ home opener, and first win of the season - a game in which Kilponen recorded her first PHF point/assist, I spoke with the Finnish-born defender about a plethora of topics - and here’s how it went.
The Ice Garden: After being shut out on opening day in Boston your team rebounded (two weeks later) and scored six goals today; safe to say that the locker room was a happy place after this one?
Anna Kilponen: Yeah, we had a good energy going all game long. I love playing here at home, and it was a good crowd too. It’s fun to play and score goals.
TIG: Was your relationship with Coach Venla a big part of luring you to come here and join the PHF? Because you’re a very good player and could have likely played anywhere you preferred.
AK: Thank you. Of course when you know people who you trust that helps to make the decision to come overseas. I know Venla and how she thinks about the game and what she expects. I think the same way, we need to be professionals and work hard. It’s a good fit.
TIG: How coordinated was it with yourself and so many Finnish (and European) players joining the Rivs for this season?
AK: No, not necessarily. We all talked, but in the end, everyone makes their own decisions.
TIG: You previously played here in the United States collegiately, for both North Dakota and Quinnipiac, so you had that experience of playing here already. That has to help you feel a bit more comfortable I would think, right?
AK: The rinks here are so much smaller compared to back home in Europe, and the game is faster there. I think it helps me having that experience (over here) already. And the life overall is a little different, too, then back home. I’m living in New Jersey, I think living in NYC would be a little too much.
TIG: You have two really good goalies this season, what is it like playing in front of them and how do they help to make you better as a defender?
AK: We talk a lot with each other, and discuss different situations. I know what they will do if they play the puck, we communicate a lot and I personally love that. It’s fun to know that they trust us - and I trust them. It makes it easy to play with them.
TIG: With all due respect, I know you’re more of a defensive player than a goal scorer, but would you rather score a goal to win a game or block a shot to win a game?
AK: That’s a tough one. It depends on what the score is. if we’re tied I want to score so we can win. I think I would want to score haha. I don’t mind the bruises, but everyone wants to score haha.
TIG: You’ve had a very accomplished career, what is your favorite hockey memory?
AK: I think just the moment that I got the call that I made it to be on the Finnish Olympic team. That was a really special moment for me. I would also say I think my first college game. It was a really cool experience and such a cool atmosphere. Hockey is big here, sports are big here. It was cool.