The undisputed #1 goalie for the Team Finland Womens hockey squad at the 2010 Olympic games in Vancouver. Noora Raty has a lot of pressure on her. She seems up to the challenge.
No stranger to North American hockey, Noora is honing her skills at the University of Minnesota in between starts for the Finnish womens team. Already a veteran of 5 years of National team experience, Noora is not a stranger to Olympic play either. At only 16 yrs of age she started for Finland in the 2006 Olympics helping the Finns to a 4th place finish.
With 2 World Championship Bronze medals, and with multiple wins over the #1 IIHF ranked Team U.S.A. in tournament games, Raty has no lack of confidence going into the 2010 games. Named the tournaments best goalie in 2007 & 2008, Raty could be arguably the best goalie in women's hockey, certainly without question the best goalie in Finnish womens hockey.
If Finland is going to get back to the podium in Vancouver after narrowly missing it the last 2 Olympics, Noora Raty will have a lot to say in that happening.
If Finland is going to have any hopes of a medal, they need some offense. Their top hope is Michelle Karvinen.
Of the big 4 nations, Finland is the one that finds itself most offensively challenged on most nights, but they do still have scoring talent. Saara Tuominen, Karolina Rantamaki & Michelle Karvinen making up the majority of that scoring.
Karvinen, a 19 year old Danish born Finnish winger, who spends her time playing for the Espoo Blues in the Finnish Womens league when she is not competing for Finland in international tournaments has already chalked up some decent stats in her hockey career. She was the leagues top point scorer in the playoffs 2 seasons ago, the same year she was picked as Rookie Of The Year. She has lead or tied Finland in tournament points in practically every tournament she has competed in. She was in the top 10 in scoring at the last 4 Nations Cup in her home country of Finland, as well as in the top 10 last World Championships.
In Vancouver, the Finns will be looking to generally muck out low scoring, tight checking affairs. They will rely heavily on their offensively talented players to step up their game as much as they can. Not even 20 years old yet, Karvinen is already one of the teams top producers, her upside is still growing, the Finns might have a legitimate gamebreaker in Karvinen.
Finland has their eyes on a medal, and hopes of knocking off one of the two super powers perhaps along the way. If Michelle Karvinen is at her best, Finland might be able to do that.
You can follow her on twitter at http://twitter.com/M3Karvinen
If Sweden plans on repeating as silver medalists, Maria Rooth will be part of that. As a two time Olympic medalist. She is one of Swedens most experienced International players.
Already a silver & bronze medalist at the Olympics, Rooth will be aiming to try & help Sweden get somewhere they never have been in a tournament featuring the U.S. & Canada, the top.
A former star member of NCAA hockey power University of Minnesota-Duluth, Rooth now showcases her skills for a womens team IN Sweden AIK Solna, where several other Swedish Olympians play. They have helped the club team become a powerful force over there, winning last seasons Swedish womens championship, as well as having 3 straight European championships. Much of this success is because of Rooth.
In international play Rooth is one of the best. At the 2006 Olympics she was the top scorer outside of Canada in the tournament with 9 points in 5 games. This helped her make the tournament all-star team.
In Vancouver Sweden will be expecting a medal, and will be hoping to become the first country outside of North America to win a gold. The odds are slim of such a feat, but the same odds were placed on them in 2006 of finishing 2nd. Which they did, thanks in part to Maria Rooth.
The goalie for Sweden in Vancouver at the 2010 Olympics will be Kim Martin. Really, can you blame them?
Kim is the goalie who helped the Swedes win a silver medal in 2006 at the Torino Olympics. With a silver & bronze medal on her Olympic resume, she certainly will be looked at by her country to bring them another medal this Olympics.
After a couple years of sluggish play after & even during a knee injury that kept her out for the 2009 Worlds, Martin seems to finally be getting her game back on track. She backstopped her country to a bronze at the last big tournament before the Olympics in the 4 Nations Cup over in Finland.
Often discussed as the "best womens goaltender" by those who follow the sport, Martin is starting to live back up to the hype that followed her before her injury. The hype that started with a 2002 Olympic bronze medal, the hype that snowballed after the world saw her help her team steal a silver in 2006 & lead University of Minnesota-Duluth to the 2008 NCAA championship.
For Kim the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver will probably feel like its own reward after being on the shelp not too long ago. But she wont be happy unless there is a medal around her neck. She likely wont be really happy unless its silver or higher.
If womens hockey is looking to showcase the game & get the attention of the men, maybe Sweden can play Valentina Lizana a bit more?
Sweden at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver will rely on Kim Martin to carry the load. Understandably, she is clearly one of the top goalies in womens hockey, if not the best. But the Swedes have another pretty decent goalie in Valentina backing up. With a resume that sports multiple European Womens championships, Swedish womens league championships & over 30 National team games, including 4 shutouts, Lizana has a pretty nice resume of her own...and shes still only 19.
What garners her more attention however is off the ice, her looks. The 5'7 dark brunette beauty looks more like a model than an elite athlete. The sport of womens hockey is always looking to market itself to get into the mainstream, this girl could be the answer for hockey that Anna Kournikova was for tennis. She has the looks, and talent.
Last year, while Kim Martin was recovering from an inury, it was Lizana that backstopped the Swedes. With an impressive .933 SPCT & a 1.25 GAVE, it was certainly cant be blamed on her they limped into a 4th place finish.
I got to see first hand this unknown gem in Vancouver this summer. In the game I watched she played against the powerhouse U.S. team. In the end, the result was an unflattering 7-0 defeat, but her play, especially in the 1st period where it could have easily been a romp already, was nothing short of stellar.
Sweden right now has their saviour Kim Martin. But the future might already be here in Valentina Lizana.
Hard to imagine a 2 time MVP of the World Championships being overlooked often, but this is often the case for Jennifer Botterill.
Playing in the shadows of womens hockey icon, Hayley Wickenheiser, Jennifer Botterill has put together one quite spectacular resume of her own. Going into her 4th Olympics, Jennifer has 2 Gold medals, and a silver. She has 5 World championships. She also has those two World Championship MVP titles.
During her college career at Harvard University, Jennifer won the Patty Kazmaier award as top collegiate womens hockey player. Twice. A feat never done before, or since. She holds the NCAA record for most consecutive games with a point at 80 (scored a point in 106 of her 107 career games), has the NCAA all time record for points with 319, and has an NCAA championship.
She has been a CWHL league scoring champion while playing for her club team, the Mississauga Chiefs. She won the Esso National Championship with that team as well in 2008. She simply wins at every level she plays at.
With all this on her resume, she is often overlooked when people talk about who are the best womens hockey players. Of course, when you play with Hayley Wickenheiser, possibly the greatest womens hockey player of all-time, that tends to happen. But dont be fooled, Botterill is herself, one of the greatest ever.
Team Canada will certainly he aiming for Gold on home soil in Vancouver this February. With talent like Jennifer Botterill on the team, you can see why they have such expectations.
You find out more about Jennifer on her official website http://www.jenniferbotterill.com/
A 3 time World Championship team member, Rebecca Johnston has just in the last year started to come into her own.
Mainly a fringe player in her first couple tournaments with Canada, Johnston stepped into a more notable role last World Championships in Hämeenlinna, Finland last year where she registed 5 points in 5 games. This year, in the Hockey Canada Cup, she repeated that performance, again potting 5 pts in 5 GP.
The 20 year old Cornell University Big Red forward is now one of the up coming offensive pieces Canada is looking at to carry them into the future & right now, she has her chance to show shes up to it. Going into her 1st Olympic games, Johnston is not a stranger to international competition, playing in over 20 tournament games, and many more exhibition games.
She has success everywhere she seems to go. Rebecca is an Ivy league Rookie Of The Year Winner, and a top 10 finalist for the Patty Kazmaier award last season for top Collegiate player in womens hockey. As a multi-sport star, Johnston is no stranger to major athletic competition even before her Team Canada career. She is also a bronze medalist in the 400 Metres at the Canadian Junior Track & Field Championships in 2006 & a Provincial champion in multiple events.
Johnston will be looked upon to contribute for the Canadians this tourney on the scoresheet. If she does, then a gold medal might finally be draped around Rebeccas neck.
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