Annina Rajahuhta Brings Fond Memories of Canada to IIHF Women's Worlds

Mark StaffieriContributor IIApril 2, 2013

Image from Getty Images, obtained from
Image from Getty Images, obtained from

One of the young forwards on the Finnish national team, Annina Rajahuhta is eager to help the squad finish on the medal podium at the 2013 IIHF Women’s Worlds. Hailing from Helsinki, many of the great moments in her career actually happened in Canada.

Rajahuhta was part of the Finnish team that captured the bronze medal at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, their first since 2002. More impressive for Rajahuhta is that it marked her international debut for Finland. “It was awesome. That was my first competition. I had never played in the Worlds before that. It was a great moment and great to be a part of that team.”

Coming off a disappointing fourth place finish at the 2012 IIHF Women’s Worlds, Rajahuhta is looking to bring the program back to glory. As one of the most talented hockey nations in the world, a gold medal for Rajahuhta would be a dream come true. “I don’t even know how to put it into words. To win the gold would be so great, it would truly be awesome.”

Currently, she competes in the Finnish league with Blues Espoo. She was the league’s Playoff MVP in 2011. For fans that may not be familiar with the league, the quality of play increases annually. “It is year by year. It is more equal and the games have been pretty tight. It is becoming a very good league.”

After her postseason glory in 2011, Rajahuhta competed with the Burlington Barracudas in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League for the 2011-12 season. Playing alongside former Canadian national team members such as Christina Kessler and Sommer West, it would end up being the team’s final season.

During her experience with the Barracudas, she had the opportunity to compete in the first women’s hockey tournament hosted by Canadian charity Hockey Helps the Homeless. The event was held north of Toronto and featured many Barracudas teammates. “That was nice as we don’t have many volunteer events. It was a great thing to be a part of, just awesome.”

While the Barracudas managed only one win in a difficult season, Rajahuhta still sees the positives. “Of course there were lessons learned. The games were tight, even if we did not win. You always learn from your opposition. It was awesome to play against them and see how they play.”

“The experience was awesome. I played against some of the best players in the world. The games were some of the toughest I ever played, after being with the national team. It was a great experience and I liked Canada a lot. It is great to be back here (in 2013).”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”