According to the magazine Let’s Play Hockey, former Minnesota Golden Gopher and Finnish national team netminder Noora Räty has signed a second deal with the Finnish men’s team, KJT for the upcoming season, continuing a postgraduate career that many thought would never happen.
Immediately following Team Finland’s defeat in the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games, Räty posted a letter declaring her retirement to social media, stating a lack of resources for players of the women’s game. Räty is one of the most impressive goalies in the world and certainly in the NCAA, though she is no longer a college athlete.
Throughout her college career, Räty set records across the board. She posted the best career save percentage (0.949), notched the most wins in a single season at 38 and topped the all-time wins list with 114. She also earned 17 shutouts in a single season, 43 total over her career and went undefeated for an entire season. Given these numbers, it’s unsurprising that her decision to retire was shocking.
Luckily for the game of hockey, it was also short-lived. Räty came out of her post-2014 Olympics retirement that fall and first suited up for up for the Mestis league’s Kiekko-Vantaa in October of 2014, making history as the first female goalie to dress for a men’s team in Finland’s second league. Räty was demoted to the team’s third league affiliate before touching the ice and earned her way back up a short time later. She signed with KJT for the following season and played 20 games with the men’s team.
Räty did not accompany her national team to the 2016 IIHF Women’s World Championships in Kamloops, B.C. this past spring. Reports varied from a suggested lower-body injury to her removal from the preliminary team by the head coach due to a personality conflict; nothing official was confirmed.
Räty’s prowess in net, however, as well as her continued training and play in the men’s league will likely see her make Finland’s roster in the upcoming 2016 Pyeongchang Olympic Games.