At 2011 World Champ.

finland

Noora Raty

Noora Raty's University of Minnesota Gophers won the WCHA final on March 3, 2012. Raty got her second shut out of the weekend. See News Highlights for full details.

Below are Noora Raty's blogs on her team's games at the 2011 World Championship in Switzerland.

Finland 3 Russia 2
Bronze Medal Game, April 25, 2011 World Championship.

Before the game our coaches again emphasized the importance of a quick start and the first goal. Also, our theme for this game was "relaxed" meaning that don't be afraid of making mistakes or losing, but be brave enough to win. Nothing special was said by players, everyone was just pumped to play. We actually sang a Finnish song called "Ihanaa Leijonat" in the dressing room before we left to the ice. The song was made to honor our best hockey commentator Antero Mentaranta. The lyrics are about what he has said during men's national team games, and it is a very inspiring song.

Our strategy was to play our own game and execute our game plan as well as possible. Russians strengths are their power play and disciplined defense. I think their biggest weakness in recent years has been goaltending.

I think we dominated the first period although we didn't generate many quality scoring chances. The second period was pretty even and the Russians dominated the third because started to take some stupid penalties. Somehow we couldn't keep the same game pace than we had in the beginning. The reason for this was probably a long tournament and you could see that some of our players were really tired. In the big games it usually comes to down which team has a better mental strength. However, we absolutely dominated the overtime and deserved our bronze medals!

In the first Russian goal I poke checked the puck but it went straight back to the Russian player. I was screened by two of our players so couldn't see the puck coming so it ended up going in over my blocker. The second goal was scored on power play; I made the first save but it went straight back to blueline and some Russian defense one timed the puck. It was going over my net but it hit to someone's stick and went in. I'm still sure that it was the Russian player's stick so it shouldn't have been a goal..

We played 4-4 in overtime and we used 3 forwards and 1 D. Our strategy was very offensive in overtime because we didn't want to wait until game-winning shots. Our game winning goal was a turnover. Michelle Karvinen fore checked the puck in the Russians zone and they got 2-1 near the net with Karoliina Rantamaki. Michelle deked the Russian D and passed the puck to Karoliina who scored on one timer.

I was selected as the best goaltender of the tournament by the directorate. It is such a great honor, but as a goalie I'm only as good as my team allows me to be. A good goalie also needs a good defense in order to be great. I don't feel that I was the key factor why we won bronze because the whole team played awesome throughout the tournament and we either lose or win as a team. However, I feel that this tournament was the best tournament I have ever played in my whole life.

(What makes you so good? Describe your play?)
I don't even know how many reporters have asked me what makes me so good and each time I haven't been able to tell them one single reason. I have always played and practiced with boys so that is definitely one key factor. Then I hate losing and allowing goals more than anything. I also would say that I have quick reflexes and I am good at reading the game and of course the passion of hockey and love of the game.

The best quote in our dressing room was probably "individuals can win games, but teams win championships." I think we really played as a team and most importantly everyone accepted their role on this team.
And also someone said that "It is much nicer to win in overtime... 2-0 win would have been boring. Now there was some excitement!"

Losing to the Swiss team early in the tournament was good for us. It was a kind of wake-up call for us, we realized that if we want to win a medal we have to play much better. Winning a bronze medal was huge for us because we had so many newcomers. I am extremely proud of them!

Canada 4 Finland 1

Q: What did the coach say to team before the game and the captain or others in dressing room.
A: Our coach said before the game that we have nothing to lose. The pressure is on them and we are the underdogs. He also said that this would be a great opportunity to make history and beat Canada for the first time. As a team we really believed that we can challenge them.

Q: First period was closer than next two; what happened?
A: We just got tired. Canada had three days off whereas we played a tough game against Sweden the day before. But of course after a slow start Canada started to play better. In the first period we had chances to score more than one goal because we pressured them hard.

Q: What else was going on within the game that you noticed with your team?
A: Somehow we didn't get our feet moving. However, we played good defense although they got almost 80 shots on goal.

Q: What did you take away from the game?
A: We were proud that we were able to give them a real challenge and we made them to work hard.

Q: What did coach tell you?
A: Usually when we lose, nothing special is said after the game. He just said that he was proud of how we played in the first and said that if we someday can play like that for 60 minutes, we will beat them.

I had 74 saves in this game. I have never had that many saves and I was absolutely exhausted after the game. Luckily we have a day off before the bronze medal game! Now it is important to do good cool down, dehydrate, and eat and sleep well!

Finland 5 Sweden 1 April 22,2011. ( Finland plays Canada in the semi-finals April 23,2011.

Our team was well prepared for this game. We had two days off from playing; on Wednesday we didn't even skate and on Thursday we had about an hour practice where the main focus was on scoring. I think it was nice to have couple days off and get something else to think about than hockey. On Thursday evening we also had a meeting; we did some group work and every group listed things that we need to do in order to win against Sweden. Each group said things like play with your heart, leave everything on the ice, win every battle, execute the game plan, play good defense, think: team first and so on.. 

Before the game our coach said that the pressure is on them and we have nothing to lose. He also emphasized the importance of the quick start and the first goal.
I told to our players to shoot high because the Swedish goalie always goes down in a butterfly position on every shot. I also told our team to go out there and have some fun because, in the end, this is just hockey! 

I think Sweden dominated the first period but we scored the goals. The first goal in this kind of game is always huge! And because we have had some problems with scoring in the tournament, it was huge for our team's self confidence to score right away. After the first period goals we just wanted to extent our lead and we succeeded.

I definitely didn't expect us to score three goals in the first because usually we play very low scoring games against Sweden. The first goal was a beautiful individual effort by Michelle Karvinen. It was a partial breakaway and she took a quick wrist shot which went over Sarah Grahn's glove. It was so quick that the referee didn't see it to go in and we continued to play for 3 minutes until the ref went to the video judge. 

We were definitely happy about the first period's outcome but at the same time we knew that we can play even better and that the game was anything but over.
One of our players said that now we have to play like the game is still 0-0 and take it one shift at the time.

Sometimes when a team is leading with couple goals, they stop moving their feet and start to back off so our coach emphasized that we have to stick with our game plan, forecheck hard, and absolutely give them no time! He also told us that it wasn't our best period though we scored three goals and that we can play better defensively. 

Michelle Karvinen ( 2 goals & 2 assists) is very skilled player. Probably one of the most skilled players in Europe. She has exceptional speed and great hands. She also has that desire to score, which some Finnish players are missing. The bigger the game the better she plays! Karoliina Rantamaki, (2 goals/1 assist) our team captain, is a great leader on and off the ice. She is always has a team first attitude and she can say the right words to the team. She is very experienced player so she is a great example for our younger players. On the ice, she always gives her best effort and never gives up! The other person who I would say was significant in this game was Jenni Hiirikoski (1 assist) . She is our best defenseman and plays about 40 minutes in each game. You rarely see her making any mistakes and she has all the qualities that a world class defenseman needs. 

I had a pretty good game, I think I made some big saves especially in the beginning and it killed the momentum that Sweden had.. I was able to see the puck very well (thanks to our defense) so I didn't allow many rebounds. I would rather take 40 shots in a game than, for example, 20 because otherwise I can easily lose my focus. 

Switzerland 2 Finland 1 in overtime.

Our team was well prepared for this game. We had two days off from playing; on Wednesday we didn't even skate and on Thursday we had about an hour practice where the main focus was on scoring. I think it was nice to have couple days off and get something else to think about than hockey. On Thursday evening we also had a meeting; we did some group work and every group listed things that we need to do in order to win against Sweden. Each group said things like play with your heart, leave everything on the ice, win every battle, execute the game plan, play good defense, think: team first and so on.. 
 

We (Team Finland) played Switzerland on Sunday April 17, 2011. We usually play against them 1-2 times a year. We faced them last time in January and Switzerland won that game after the game winning shots. Last time when I played against Switzerland was in Hameenlinna, 2009, where we beat them 6-3.

In this game, they came out flying and somehow we couldn't answer their speed. We also took a few penalties in the beginning. However, we were able to kill those penalties and soon after we scored our first, and only, goal in the game. Killing those penalties and scoring first was important for us because if Switzerland had scored couple goals on the power play it would have been a whole different kind of game.

I think they came out flying because they are playing in front of their home crowd and they want to show everyone how good they are. But we came out flying in the second and totally dominated that period. However, we couldn’t score; Switzerland played a good solid defense.

Scoring has been the biggest challenge for our team this year; we lost so many players from last year's team we now we need new players to step up and score big goals for us. We dominated the second period, but Switzerland scored the only goal in the period. It was a partial breakaway and good individual effort by their forward.

The last period was pretty even and both teams had some nice scoring changes but neither team scored. I thought we started the overtime well and our forward Michelle Karvinen got a breakaway but Switzerland's goalie, Florence Schelling, denied her. Then we couldn't get the puck out of our zone and Switzerland scored the game winning goal.

It definitely was a disappointing loss for us because we didn't play our best game. But all the respect goes to Switzerland, they played with heart. Today they were the team that wanted to win more. It was a great competitive battle and either team could have won!

Once again, we had huge trouble scoring and their goalie played a great game. We just have to be much hungrier to score goals! This was my first game for over a month so personally I'm happy how I played although we didn't win. I also enjoyed the atmosphere as the rink was almost full. Swiss people are great hockey fans and they can be extremely loud.

Finland 5 Kazakhstan 3 Saturday April 16, 2011.

Our team is much different from the Olympic year because many of our older/key players retired. Also some of our key players, such as Saara Tuominen and Linda Valimaki were injured just before the tournament so they couldn't travel to Switzerland with us. Overall, our team is very young as we have only 8 players who have played at the worlds before. For the first game our team came together pretty well; you could see that some of our rookies were nervous in the beginning but once the game went further, they gained more and more confidence.

The highlights were when our rookies, Pia Lund, Anniina Rajahuhta and Susanna Tapani each scored their first goal at the world championships.The first game in the tournament is always a big challenge, but I think the biggest challenge in this game was to solve Kazakhstan's defense; they always put 5 players in front of the net so it was hard to get good scoring opportunities.

Our coaches just gave a short speech before the game and between the periods. We knew that if we just play our own game and keep our feet moving, we would leave the ice as the winner. Usually the Finns don't talk much in the dressing room.

We played Kazakhstan last time in Hameenlinna, 2009. However, their team is almost same as Kazakhstan's best club team, Aisulu Almaty, and they come to play exhibition games in Finland every year so we know them very well. In terms of the competition, I think the game was good and enjoyable to watch. The score was close all the time and both teams got some quality scoring chances.
Both goaltenders played a solid game. In my mind, none of the goals were their fault; all the goals were good individual or team efforts.

"Sisu" Gives Finns an Advantage.

Noora Raty is Finland's goaltending sensation who sent these answers to Winih.com around midnight on Sun.Feb. 21st , 2010 as the team headed into the next week of Olympic competition. "Sisu" is a Finnish term which means “strength of will, determination and perseverance in the face of adversity.”

Q. What do you think of your team's efforts so far?

A. Our effort has been good so far. Against Russia and China we dominated and against USA we played well in last two periods. We have had some troubles with scoring but I trust that our players will score in the big games. We still have to improve if we want to achieve our goal which is a medal.

Q. You have been hugely important in your teams' wins. What are your impressions on the three teams you have played so far?

A. I was a little disappointed how Russia played. They started well but when we got our feet moving they back off and we dominated rest of the game. On the other hand, I was surprised how well china played against us. Their goalie played a great game and they played well defensively; Hannu Saintula have been doing a great job for China. USA was great once again and they definitely deserved their win.

Q. What has been most challenging for you during the games?

A. Get my homework done ( Raty is in first year at University of Minnesota). Here's so many things what I would like to do when we are not practicing or playing so it's hard to find time for homework.
But so far my teachers have been happy and they all are cheering for me.

Q. The team's scores vs Russia and China were surprisingly low. Why?

A. I think against Russia we made some nice goals. We kept things simple; shot from the blue line and then bodies to the net. China played defensively very well and they succeeded to keep us away from the net so that we had to shoot from bad angles. Of course we need more will to scoring and more bodies to the net, we have to use that Finnish thing called SISU!

Q. What does Finland need to do to improve in the next game vs Canada?

A. We have to play 60 minutes of hockey; we can't fall asleep even for a one minute or they will score right away. And then just battle, battle, battle and score when we have a chance. Defensively we have to keep them away from our net; they are very dangerous when they get there.

Q. What has it been like being at these Olympics compared to Turin?

A. It has been much more fun. Hockey is so much bigger thing here than it was in Turin. We get to play for big crowds and people love hockey here.

Q. What does your team do to mentally prepare for the next game vs Canada?

A. We gonna prepare same than for every game. I think we don't have to do anything different when we are playing against Canada.

Q. Are you going back to play for University of Minnesota after these games?

A. Yes I am. I will fly back on Friday morning and play in the same evening when we start play offs.

Q. Was playing for a US college team better than training in Finland?

A. Yes it was. I'm very happy about my decision to play college hockey instead of staying in Finland.

Defensive Player of the Week in the Western Women's Hockey Association.

Raty plays American college hockey. Included here is a press release from the Western league announcing her as the WCHA Defensive Player of the Week, December 9, 2009. 

Noora Räty, the University of Minnesota’s freshman goaltender from Espoo, Finland, allowed just one goal in two road games against No. 9-ranked Harvard on Dec. 4-5. This marks her third Defensive Player of the Week honor this season (also on Oct. 21 and Dec. 2).

Over 123:35 minutes played in the series, Räty allowed one goal at the :33 mark of the third period in last Friday’s 1-0 loss to the host Crimson. Prior to that goal, Räty had held her opponents scoreless for 217:29 consecutive minutes played.

Last Saturday, she held Harvard scoreless en route to her fifth career shutout and third in two weeks. Räty kept the Gophers in the game early with 14 saves in the first, 12 in the second, 11 in the third and two in overtime for a career-best 39 stops. She had a series total of 59 saves on 60 shots for a .983 saves percentage.