International Ice Hockey Federation

WW Top 25 Stories: #15

WW Top 25 Stories: #15

Jenni Hiirikoski becomes first Euro two-timer

Published 21.03.2015 13:46 GMT+1 | Author Andrew Podnieks
WW Top 25 Stories: #15
Jenni Hiirikoski clears the puck clears the puck. Photo: Matthew Manor / HHOF-IIHF Images
14 April 2012. Shannon Szabados (CAN) is arguably the best goalie, USA’s Amanda Kessel, if healthy, the best forward. For defence better look to Finland.

Jenni Hiirikoski, a tiny sprite of a player, is the most graceful skater one can see in the women’s game. She handles the puck and moves play up ice like Paul Coffey, and her ability to recover is thanks largely to a free-flowing stride that is the envy of any aspiring female defenceman.

Hiirikoski will turn 28 years of age soon after the 2015 Women’s Worlds start in Malmo. She started her international career at the 2004 Worlds a day after turning 17 and has been the stud on the blue line for the Finns ever since. Her team won bronze in her first year, and won four in a row from 2008-11, including the Vancouver Olympics, but that bronze in 2011 has been the country’s most recent.

More recently the team has undergone several changes – old players retiring, new players coming in not yet ready for the leap to top-level play – but Hiirikoski has endured. Named captain in 2012, her leadership goes without saying.

At every major tournament the IIHF hands out honours to the Best Goalie, Best Defenceman, and Best Forward, and Hiirikoski was named best blueliner in 2009, 2012, 2013, and 2014. She is the most decorated European in women’s history because it is clear to any hockey fan watching her play that she is, quite simply, a superior player.

“I was honoured, of course,” Hiirikoski said of her being named Best Defenceman at the Sochi Olympics. “There are so many good defencemen. It was a really big thing for me.”

Although she has played professionally in the Russian women’s league when not dressing for Suomi, Hiirikoski currently plays in Jyvaskyla and runs her own painting company during the day.

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It’s hardly a prestigious mode of employment, but it gives her financial freedom to continue playing hockey at the highest level. Given the grace of her skating, she still has many years of high-level hockey left in her.

In celebration of the 25th anniversary of women's hockey in the IIHF, writer Andrew Podnieks is counting down the top 25 stories in women's international hockey history. One story each day will appear until the Number 1 story is unveiled the morning of the gold-medal game of the 2015 Women's Worlds in Malmo, Sweden, on April 4.

Earlier Top 25 Stories:
#16: Former NHLer Yashin leads Russian women to bronze
#17: Cammi Granato cut before Turin
#18: Visitors win twice in North American finals
#19: IIHF makes Women’s Worlds official for 1990
#20: Rogge issues challenge to women’s hockey
#21: IIHF goes to all-women officials
#22: Shannon Miller recruits Euros for NCAA
#23: IIHF introduces junior event for women
#24: Zorn a goalie and skater both
#25: Russia-Switzerland a dandy display in 2011


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