After Finland’s women’s team was eliminated in the quarterfinals by Sweden at last month’s Olympic tournament in Sochi, goaltender Noora Raty announced that she was retiring from the national team. The 24-year old also noted she was retiring from club play, but only if she couldn’t find a competitive league to participate in.
With the lack of professional women’s hockey leagues around the world, Raty will be taking her skills and facing off against men. The netminder will join Kiekko Vantaa of the Mestis League, Finland’s second highest division, next season after signing a one-year deal.
She has been an outspoken critic of the way Finland’s ice hockey association treats women players, demanding improved facilities and training conditions. She says that she will not be a big star for Kiekko Vantaa, but is likely to play a few minutes here and there to allow the number one goalie to take a breather.
”Even though the contract has been signed, that doesn’t guarantee anything,” said Räty. “The challenge will be big. Now I need to work hard and change words into deeds.”
Last week, gold medal-winning Canadian goaltender Shannon Szabados signed a contract for the rest of the season with the SPHL's Columbus Cottonmouths, days after practicing with the Edmonton Oilers.
Raty will become the second female to play in the Mestis league, joining Canadian hockey icon Hayley Wickenheiser, who played with HC Salamat for 22 games over two seasons.
Stick-tap Lauri S.
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