Marianne Ihalainen will become the first Finnish female player to get this honor with an official ceremony.
“Honouring my career will be the biggest recognition that I have ever received as an ice hockey player. I appreciate this very much and I’m very thankful to the Finnish Ice Hockey Association for this honour,” Ihalainen expressed her feelings.
The former national team’s former captain won altogether 11 medals during her career including the bronze medal from 1998 Olympics in Nagano – the first Olympic women’s ice hockey tournament.
“It was such a great experience to represent your home country since the early years. I’ve always been very proud to wear Finland’s white and blue jersey. I always played for the team and my country and we always fought so hard for the team. I’m satisfied that the same attitude is still there and I got to witness that while I was part of team’s coaching staff after my career,” said Ihalainen, who is also known by her nickname Ainski.
Ihalainen played all her 20-year career for Ilves Tampere and the team honoured her career by retiring her jersey number (#16) as first female player in Finland. Ihalainen was inducted into Hockey Hall of Fame Finland in 2007 together with Riikka Nieminen (previously Valila, now Sallinen) as a first female members.
Jari Kurri, Raimo Helminen, Saku Koivu, Jere Lehtinen, Ville Peltonen, Teemu Selänne, Kimmo Timonen and Timo Jutila are players that the Finnish Ice Hockey Association has honored previously with same kind of ceremony.