Women's Lions goalkeeper Anni Keisala lost all her matches in the Swedish league – “The sum of many coincidences” – Sports

The season of HV71 represented by Anni Keisala was very difficult. Even worse than the losses, a setback came at the end of November, when captain Sanni Hakala became paralyzed.

Ice Hockey goalkeeper Years Keisala plays in his dream team in the Swedish Women’s Premier League in the SDHL, but the season of HV71, which he represents, was very difficult. The game started on the wrong track already last fall, when the team from Jönköping got stuck in the bottom group of a good series.

A look at Keisala’s statistics from SDHL on the website is a harsh sight: 14 matches, 14 defeats.

Can it be true?

“Yes, unfortunately that is true. A tight season”, Keisala summed up last week at the media conference of the Finnish women’s national team in Vantaa.

HV71 finished ninth in the ten-team series and ultimately kept its place in the qualifiers.

“Even as a team, there weren’t many victories. Coaching chooses who plays, and I didn’t get many games.”

When Keisala got to play, the pucks didn’t stop as hoped. The bad statistics were contributed by the poor performances of the whole team.

“Many random sums. The statistics tell something, and if you watch the games, it tells something. I don’t think it was a bad season in terms of playing. I have been able to develop”, Keisala opened the whole.

“The national matches of the season show that the skills are there. Ice hockey is a team sport, and the team must play well in front of the goalie. A goalkeeper cannot win games alone.”

Score and the statistics remained on the sidelines at the end of November, when the Finnish captain of HV71 Sanni Hakala seemingly harmlessly crashed into the opponent’s goal post, remained motionless on the ice surface and was paralyzed from the chest down.

“I wasn’t on target in that match,” opened Keisala, who was watching the situation from the substitution area.

“At first I didn’t think it was that bad. At some point I realized that it really hurt. No answers were received quickly”, he returned to the grim mood.

Hakala’s significance was huge in terms of gameplay and otherwise. Losing a teammate as a result of a serious injury was a terrible blow for HV71, which was already in trouble, and had to overcome Hakala’s injury in addition to the problems in the game.

“Everyone got to share their own experiences. He was a long-time captain, a good player and a spiritual leader. He left a pretty big hole in the locker room,” Keisala recounted the team’s recovery.

Hakala has been familiar to Keisala for over ten years. They previously played together in Oulu’s Kärpi in addition to the under-18 girls’ and women’s national teams.

“We have known each other for a long time and have been involved since lion cubs. I followed Sanni to HV71, and he recommended me there.”

Hakala was injured in the match between HV71 and Djurgården, which was suspended.

The season soon resumed.

“The first game after the event was the most mentally difficult game I’ve ever played,” Keisala admitted.

Season In HV71 it was difficult in many ways, but in the national team Keisala has done better.

The female lions will start their World Cup campaign in the USA late on Wednesday evening Finnish time. The goal is clear.

“I expect hard games and that we will be able to improve the result of the previous two World Cup competitions and get back to the medal base. That’s a big goal.”

What does it take to return to the medal base?

“It requires the overall success of the entire team. We have a good mix of youth and experience. There is scoring strength, but also skill in defense.”

Keisal has been Naisleijoni’s number one goalkeeper in recent years, but has a long way to go. He got to smell the atmosphere of adult competition already in 2016 and 2017, but at that time Meeri Räisänen and Nora Räty carried the responsibility of the first goalkeeper.

“I got involved when I was young, but then there were a few injuries and a slow development phase. Now I have developed and got my place in the national team. Keeping the place requires work all the time. There are other good goalkeepers. Nothing is self-evident.”

Sanni Ahola and Tiia Pajarinen will beat Keisala in the World Cup competitions played in the USA. Ahola is playing in his second and Pajarinen in his first World Cup, so Keisala, who is going to his sixth World Cup, is the winner of the trio.

“I’ve known Tiia for many years. I’m not trying to be anything amazing, but I’m showing a model with my own doing. You can ask about anything and I’ll give you advice.”

Keisala achieved her first World Cup bronze medal in 2017 in the initial stage of the successful period of the Women’s Lions and her second as head coach Pasi Mustonen in the last World Cup competitions 2021, which were Keisala’s breakthrough competitions.

In 2022, Keisala defeated the Women’s Lions for Olympic bronze in Beijing, where Mustonen changed in the middle of the competition Juuso Toivola. During the time of the last-mentioned head coach, Finland has missed out on a medal in two World Cup competitions in a row and was sometimes in the B-level group.

The generational change of the national team is still in progress.

“It takes its own time. No one assumes that after the change of generation the results will be the same as before. I feel that we are on a good path and have been able to drive young people along. Young people are already playing a big role in the national team and solving games. It is required,” Keisala said.

From Lohja Keisala wants to play a good end to a difficult season in the World Championships. The patterns for next season are also clear when the games continue in HV71.

What have you learned in Sweden during the two seasons?

“Small things in the end games. Game reading and readiness. Not so much technical. Small extras that can develop the whole.”

While playing in Ilves, Keisala studied social work at the University of Applied Sciences, but in HV71 he has focused on ice hockey.

“After graduation, I have only played hockey. I graduated in the fall of 2022 when I went to Sweden. I was finishing my thesis then.”

Keisala, who turns 27 this week, has two years’ plans as a hockey goaltender.

“The goal is until the Olympics. Then I’ll see what life brings.”

By Editor

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