Finnish teammates to meet as foes at OSU

The Gophers have two Finnish players, and Ohio State has one.

Megan Ryan

Usually, only one other person on the ice knows what senior defender Mira Jalosuo is saying — senior goaltender Noora Räty.

Even after nearly four years playing in the U.S. for the Gophers, the two still speak in their native Finnish to each other during games.

“It probably helps a lot,” Jalosuo said. “The teams who we play against have no idea what we are talking [about] on the ice.”

But this weekend, one more person can join in the conversation — Ohio State senior forward Minttu Tuominen.

Jalosuo, Räty and Tuominen have all played on the Finnish national team together. Räty and Tuominen are from the same town in Finland and shared a club team.

The trio is familiar with each other’s playing style, having competed with and against each other for several years.

Jalosuo said she knows one aspect of Tuominen’s game well.

“I know exactly what she is doing on power play because we are in [the] same power play unit in [the] national team,” Jalosuo said.

Tuominen said she has helped teach her team about the Finnish Gophers.

“I know Noora’s goaltending style,” Tuominen said. “If she sees the puck, she’s going to take it. You can’t really score on her like that. So you have to crash the net.

“When it comes to Mira, I know her strengths, like her shot is really good,” Tuominen said. “She’s not the fastest player, so I try to use my speed against her.”

Gophers head coach Brad Frost said he hasn’t prodded Jalosuo and Räty for too much inside information.

“We’re not really getting that in-depth,” Frost said. “We can see what they’re like via video.”

Räty said she does her best to keep the Finnish national team and the Gophers separate. But she can’t help feeling a little extra motivation when she knows she’s facing a compatriot.

“They used to have more Finnish players at Duluth, so then I always kind of knew what they were going to try,” Räty said. “I think it just brings an extra energy when I know that they have a Finnish player on the other team because I know they want to score on me pretty bad.”

Tuominen said the Buckeyes may also be able to capitalize on a more relaxed Minnesota team, since the Gophers just clinched the WCHA regular season last weekend.

“We’re just eager to try and cut their winning streak,” Tuominen said. “What’s a better time to do it than now, in the spring, getting ready for playoffs?”