Noora Räty Will Not Join NWHL This Year
Finnish Olympian Noora Räty announced via Twitter on Friday that she will not be playing in the NWHL this season. Instead she will continue to play on a men’s team and, like the rest of us, watch what happens with the new U.S.-based women’s league.
Plan is to keep playing with men this season and look how NWHL develops ? https://t.co/Gyl5srKpyA
— Noora Räty (@Nooraty41) August 14, 2015
In June, Räty had hinted at returning to the United States for the 2015-16 season. That remains unconfirmed at this time, however. If she does sign with a men’s team in the U.S., she will be the second active female player to do so. Canadian Olympian Shannon Szabados is expected to be entering her second full year playing for the Columbus Cottonmouths of the Southern Professional Hockey League.
The cautious approach to the new league from one of the game’s international stars is notable. It would have been a major marketing coup for the NWHL to be able to count an established and popular netminder such as Räty among its players. To date, none of the major names in women’s hockey have signed on, although Hilary Knight has declared her intention to do so.
The NWHL promised more opportunities for international players than the CWHL could provide. The New York Riveters have signed a number of international players, including goalie Nana Fujimoto of the Japanese National Team and forwards Janine Weber of Austria and Lyudmila Belyakova of Russia.
Weber scored the Clarkson Cup winning goal for the CWHL’s Boston Blades last season and Belyakova impressed in the IIHF Women’s World Championships this past spring. Fujimoto may be a star in the making. Her performance at the WWC earned her the award for the tournament’s top goaltender and a number of new fans. All are excellent choices for the new league.
Still, none of these players have the star power of Räty or Knight, or that of Austria’s Florence Schelling who will play for Linköping in Sweden’s professional women’s league, the Riksserien, this coming season. There is some possibility that Genevieve Lacasse might sign with the new league. That remains an open question, however.
In 2014-15, Räty played with Kiekko-Vantaa and BeWe-TuusKi of the Mestis and Suomi-sarja, Finland’s second- and third-tier professional leagues. Both have already begun preseason for 2014-15. It is possible that she might join them at a later date, but it does seem unlikely at this point.
Wherever Räty lands, it will be news, especially if she does indeed play in the U.S. as has been speculated.