Former Minnesota Golden Gophers women's goaltender Noora Räty has signed a one-year contract with Finnish men’s team Kiekko Vantaa, according to YLE.
Räty was a four-year starter at the University of Minnesota, where she helped lead the Gophers to back-to-back NCAA National Championships in 2012 and 2013. The 2013 campaign was perfect, and they were honored by President Barack Obama on Monday for their accomplishment.
The 24-year-old goalie is considered one of the best female hockey players in the world, and following the Sochi Olympics she threatened to retire if she couldn't find a competitive league to play in. There aren't any professional women's hockey leagues in North America, and Räty didn't think Russia's professional league was good enough for her, so she put all of her chips on the chance to play for a men's team.
Kiekko Vantaa gave her that chance, and she'll be a backup goalie in the Mentis League, Finland's second-highest division, according to NESN.
"Even though the contract has been signed, that doesn’t guarantee anything,” said Räty. “The challenge will be big. Now I need to work hard and change words into deeds.”
She is the second female goalie to sign with a men's team in the last week. Shannon Szabados, who led Canada to Olympic gold in 2010 and 2014, signed to play for the Columbus Cottonmouths in the Southern Professional League.
Here's the letter she wrote after she hinted at her possible retirement.