Finnish Goaltender Stands Between the Pipes for New Hampshire Wildcats

Mark Staffieri@@MarkStaff100Contributor IIOctober 26, 2012

Photo by Todd Huxley Smith, courtesy of Wildcat Women’s Hockey, The Weekend in Pictures
Photo by Todd Huxley Smith, courtesy of Wildcat Women’s Hockey, The Weekend in Pictures

In the first two games of the 2012-13 season for the New Hampshire Wildcats, goaltender Vilma Vaattovaara (from Veikkloa, Finland) won both games in a remarkable NCAA debut. Majoring in zoology with a minor in marine biology, Vaattovaara has quietly emerged as one of the best goaltending recruits of the season.

Vaattovaara is the first Wildcats women’s hockey player from Finland. In winning her first two games, she stopped 47-of-50 shots, while registering a goals against average of 1.80 and a .940 save percentage. For her efforts, she was recognized as Hockey East co-Defensive Player of the Week.

The Oct. 5 victory vs. the Syracuse Orange saw her make 35 saves in a road win. Vaattovaara rose to the occasion in the second and third periods, as she logged 14 and 15 saves.

Although she allowed a goal to Caitlin Roach at the 7:33 mark of the second period which saw the game tied 3-3, Vaattovaara showed remarkable poise in the third frame, as she did not allow another goal.

Kristina Lavoie would score the game-winning goal for New Hampshire with less than two minutes in the third period. Syracuse outshot New Hampshire by a 38-20 mark. 

The following day, Vilma Vaattovaara relieved Moe Bradley in the second period of a contest vs. the rebuilding Colgate Raiders. She needed only 12 saves in 2 periods of play to log the win in a 4-1 road win.

In addition, she did not allow one goal in the contest. Of note, Alexis Crossley scored the first goal of her NCAA career. New Hampshire outshot Colgate by a 36-21 mark as Colgate’s Susan Allen made 32 saves in a valiant effort.

An Oct. 20 upset of fourth ranked Boston College resulted in her third win of the season. Although the Eagles took leads of 2-1 and 3-2, Vaattovaara did not panic. She showed tremendous composure as she stood between the pipes in a 32-save effort. Her counterpart, Megan Miller, made 24 saves in a losing effort.

The 2012 graduate of Hämeenlinnan Lyseon Lukio High School has enjoyed a 3-1-0 start to her freshman campaign with the New Hampshire Wildcats. A 32-save effort in a 4-3 upset of nationally ranked Boston College was one of her best games of the season.

Prior to joining New Hampshire, Vaattovaara competed for the Finnish National Under-18 team and won two bronze medals. One of her new teammates with the Wildcats, Alexis Crossley, played for the Canadian Under-18 team.

In Finland, she helped her team win a national championship in 2010, while winning a silver medal in the Finnish National league in 2011.