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Wickenheiser Signs With Finnish Hockey Team For Remainder Of Season

Posted on Monday, January 20 at 07:31 by RoyalHighlander

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Salamat is the top team in the Eastern Conference followed by Jokipojat three points behind. Both teams are safe bets to finish in the top four in the conference and qualify for playoffs.
The Salamat, which translates into Lightning, were on the road on Sunday against the Joensuu Jokipojat, losing 4-2.
"I think I've been playing the game long enough that after a few practices and a few good hard scrimmages with the team you could tell if you were going to be able to make an impact," Wickenheiser said Monday following a news conference. "It's been, I would say, a good start, not a bad start, but I know I can play better as time goes on here.
"I'm pretty comfortable with the role, with what they expect me to do."
In the three games Wickenheiser played, the league-leading Salamat went 2-1.
Wickenheiser, from Shaunavon, Sask., can play up to 22 more games with Salamat until the end of March, including regular season and playoff games.
Kirkkonummi is a small town just west of Helsinki. Salamat is two rungs below Finland's top league.
Wickhenheiser expects to play between 10 to 15 minutes a game playing centre on the squad's third forward line.
"We have been very pleased with her," Matti Hagman, the head coach and a former NHL player, said in a statement.
"Kettera, Sapko and Jokipojat are the top teams in our league so Hayley really got a feel of what she can expect this spring. She has convinced us that she is able to play in this league and if needed when we are playing qualification games to be promoted to the next level." Details of the contract's terms were not immediately available Monday.
It had been thought Wickenheiser was making hockey history by becoming the first female position player - three others have played goalie - to play with a professional men's team, but a German woman apparently beat her to it in 1998-99.
Maren Valenti played 24 games for Freiburg of Germany's second division, but didn't register a point or a penalty during her time with the team.
Salamat's next game is Saturday against Waikoo.
Wickenheiser hasn't turned her back on women's hockey.
She wants to play for the Canadian women's team at the world championship in Beijing in April and Salamat's schedule will allow her to do that.
"There's no worries that I won't be at the worlds," said Wickenheiser. "Even if we go all the way the last game is March 29, so I would be there just in time to start the worlds in China. It worked out perfectly."
Wickenheiser helped the Canadian women win an Olympic gold medal in Salt Lake City last year and was named MVP of the tournament.
She is the Canadian team's all-time leader in points.
© Copyright 2003 The Canadian Press



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