23 December, 2015

Whitecaps Blueliner Mira Jalosuo Returns to the Scene of Her Greatest Hockey Glories


In her native Finland, Mira Jalosuo is a highly talented member of their national team. Having first competed in 2007, she has provided solid leadership and a chance to maintain Finland’s status as one of the world’s finest hockey nations, she recently captured bronze at the 2015 4 Nations Cup. In the state of Minnesota, Jalosuo shall always have a place in the hearts and minds of Golden Gophers hockey fans.

One of the greatest hockey accomplishments in her hockey career, Jalosuo was part of a memorable team, which included fellow Finnish national team player Noora Raty, helping contribute to the Minnesota Golden Gophers undefeated season in 2012-13. An unprecedented first in NCAA women’s ice hockey, it was part of a magical time for Jalosuo, which saw her contribute four solid seasons to one of the most prestigious and important women’s ice hockey programs. 

Throughout this remarkable episode of hockey, Jalosuo quickly became enamored with her surroundings, appreciating the beauty of Minnesota and its unified love of hockey. Finding a hockey paradise, it was only natural that Jalosuo would one day return to Minnesota and rekindle the magic that strenghtened her love of the game. The Whitecaps would serve as the vehicle, welcoming Jalosuo back to the scene of some of the greatest hockey glories in her world-class career.

“I did fall in love with Minnesota when I played for the Gophers. I needed a new challenge in my life after spending two years playing professional hockey in Russia and I knew the Whitecaps team would be a great option.

During the winter, I contacted Winny Brown-Brodt and she gave my contact information to Laura Halldorson and Laura gave me more information about the team. When I heard that the team was going to play games against college and NWHL teams I was sold.

Also, when I heard rumors about the roster I just got more and more excited. The level of hockey was my main reason to come back to Minnesota but I was also interested about continuing my studies and I submitted an application to Hamline University. I was very grateful when I got an letter saying I got accepted to their Forensic Science program so everything just turned out to go my way.”

Donning number 18 with the Whitecaps, Jalosuo’s inaugural season saw her enjoy the opportunity to compete against clubs from the incipient NWHL. Scoring a power play goal against the New York Riveters, it snapped a scoreless deadlock, providing the Whitecaps with momentum. The end result was a 5-2 Whitecaps win, providing her with an early season highlight.

In addition, she enjoyed the opportunity to return to Ridder Arena, home of the Gophers. Such an experience was a highly emotional one as the Whitecaps faced off against her former team.  Jalosuo was one of 11 Gophers alums competing for the Whitecaps in this contest, which also included Raty between the pipes.

During Jalosuo’s final season with the Gophers (which was also the undefeated season), one that saw her experience off-ice success with All-WCHA Academic Honors, freshmen such as Hannah Brandt and Amanda Leveille were absorbing the Gopher legacy, understanding their role to come. Having grown into “franchise players” for the Gophers, helping them claim the 2015 NCAA Frozen Four, Jalosuo was in a reciprocal position, admiring how they have been able to add to said legacy.

Although the Gophers would prevail , Jalosuo and the Whitecaps provided an admirable effort, contributing to a highly exciting game, which left all the fans in awe of the remarkable skill on the ice. In reflecting on her return to Ridder, Jalosuo acknowledges that there was an element of edge, as she was in the unparalleled position of opponent, 

“To be honest with you, I was a little bit nervous, which was weird because I never get nervous before the games. I had been training with the Gopher girls during the summer and seeing them being great on the ice, I knew the game would be exciting.

It was definitely weird to do the warm up at the other end of the ice sheet and get dressed in the visitor's locker room but once the game started it started feel more like just a normal hockey game. Overall, it was a great experience and it was great to play in front of the Gopher fans and meet them after the game.

In addition, Ridder Arena would host the first professional women’s hockey games in the state’s history. Played on December 12 and 13, it was only fitting that Jalosuo was among the remarkable women gracing the ice. Competing against the NWHL’s Boston Pride, which featured many Team USA members and Wisconsin Badgers alums, the historic game served as a homecoming, welcoming back many legendary players who first carved their legacies on WCHA ice.

Adding to such momentum was the fact that the famous Lamoureux Twins, Jocelyne and Monique, who played against Jalosuo in the NCAA as members of North Dakota, were part of the Whitecaps roster. As a side note, Pride player Corinne Buie, raised in Edina, Minnesota, and a one-time nominee for the Minnesota Ms. Hockey Award, had the chance to make an emotional return home.

Splitting the two-game set with the Pride, Jalosuo’s second venture in Ridder Arena proved to be another momentous occasion. In reflecting on her return to Minnesota, the moment that stands out remains the contest against her former team. For those select few that have donned the distinct maroon and gold of the Gophers, the rink represents an amalgam of happiness and innocence.

Forever proud to have been part of such an historic team as the Gophers, the chance to reunite at Ridder with current and former Gophers, particpiating in an event that gathers a superlative amount of hockey talent in one setting served as a cherished event. 

“My favorite moment this season with the Whitecaps has been the Gopher game. It is kind of surreal that me and the other former Gopher players got a chance to play against our former team. It was always an honor to wear the Gopher jersey and getting to play against players who used to be my teammates was awesome. Also one of my favorite moments is our first team practice. I think most of us thought that we could never get a chance to play together and the excitement and energy in the locker room was something unreal.

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

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