Former teammates Noora Raty and Meeri Raisanen, who suited up for Finland’s national women’s team, made history this weekend. The former goaltending partners faced off against each other in a Finnish men’s third-league contest. Raty’s KJT downed Raisanen’s D-Kiekko 5-2.
Finnish netminders Noora Raty and Meeri Raisanen were teammates for the women’s national team at the 2014 Olympic games and two World Championships, but it’s not international duty that will forever link the goaltenders. Rather, Raty and Raisanen will go down in history as the first women’s goaltenders to go head-to-head in a professional men’s contest in Finland.
Over the weekend, Raty and Raisanen both suited up for their respected teams in Finland’s third league, Suomi-Sarja. Raty, who plays for KJT, and Raisanen, who plays for D-Kiekko, took the crease as the starting goaltenders for a Saturday contest in the league, with Raty emerging as the victor.
Raty, 26, was the much busier of the two netminders, facing 36 shots and stopping all but two en route to the 5-2 victory. Raisanen, 25, allowed three goals on 14 shots before KJT added two empty-net goals for the three-goal victory.
According to the boxscore, only 70 fans were in attendance to witness the history-making contest.
The plan to pit Raty against Raisanen had apparently been in place for the better part of the campaign. When the schedule was released, coaches from KJT and D-Kiekko had circled the matchup with the idea of pitting the two women against each other.
“We agreed with (former KJT coach Joni) Petrell, the girls were playing against each other,” former D-Kiekko coach Tommi Nekkula told Ilta-Sanomat. Both Petrell and Nekkula have since moved on from their positions with their respective clubs, but new KJT bench boss Jarmo Raiha and D-Kiekko coach Jari Tapper kept with the idea.
The matchup nearly didn’t come to fruition, however, as Raty was battling the flu heading into the game. She recovered in time to suit up.
Raty is one of the most decorated netminders in women’s hockey history. She holds the all-time NCAA women’s records for save percentage, shutouts, wins as well as single-season win percentage, shutouts and wins records. She won Olympic bronze in 2010, and was named the most outstanding goaltender at the women’s World Championships in 2007, 2008 and 2011. Raty has not participated in women’s international play since the 2014 Olympics.
With Raty gone, Raisanen has been her successor in goal for Finland. Raisanen helped Finland to a bronze at the 2015 World Championship. She is also currently playing for JYP of the women’s SM-Sarja.