The price to play

With no paying professional women’s hockey league in North America, players have limited options after college.

Three-time Olympian and University graduate Noora Räty gathers pucks during a private lesson for a young goalie early Tuesday morning at the Eagan Civic Arena.

Patricia Grover

Three-time Olympian and University graduate Noora Räty gathers pucks during a private lesson for a young goalie early Tuesday morning at the Eagan Civic Arena.

Betsy Helfand

Arguably the best women’s goaltender in the world announced her conditional retirement Feb. 15, shortly after her Finnish women’s hockey team fell out of Olympic medal contention.

Former University of Minnesota netminder Noora Räty is 24, and possibly hasn’t even hit her prime.

But with no North American professional league that pays, Räty posted a letter on Twitter announcing that she would hang up her skates for good if she couldn’t find a competitive league to play in.

“Asking players to work full time and then [train] like a pro athlete at the same time is just too much and unfair,” Räty wrote.

Her problem is one many women’s hockey players face after their college careers end.

In turn, players, coaches and fans are increasingly calling for a paid, professional North American league for women, but others still question its viability.

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