Like any other player who seeks the chance to play in North America, nobody knew what to expect when Venla Hovi came onto the scene. The Tampere, Finland native had been playing since 2002 when she cracked Team Finland’s roster for the U22 Women’s Tournament.
Fast forward 16 years later, Hovi has ended her accomplished career in the gold medal game at Metro Areena in Espoo, Finland. Not only did she conclude her professional career at the IIHF level, but Hovi also took part in the Winter Olympics with Team Finland in 2018.
Of course, this was not her first time playing the women’s game in the Winter Olympics as Hovi is a three-time olympian in addition to being a two-time bronze medalist and 2018 U Sports Champion.
While these achievements speak to the level of both excitement as well as talent that Hovi withholds, the Finnish native has also made herself a success story coming over to Canada to revive her career.
Most recently just this past season, Hovi made her debut in the CWHL, playing alongside Brianne Jenner and Brianna Decker in Western Canada with the Calgary Inferno. Furthermore, not only did this give her the opportunity to display her raw skill, but it also gave her the stage to stand on, led by former olympian and commissioner Jayna Hefford.
As a result of her luck, the 31-year-old not only has played on the world’s biggest stage, but has now competed in the Clarkson Cup Final as well. Fittingly so, she was able to do so, facing Montreal with the Inferno in Toronto. This, however, came in what would be both her first and last regular season appearance in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League.
In a tweet from the Finnish forward following the Women’s World Championship in Espoo, she said, “Well, as tears are rolling down my face, I never thought I will play my last hockey game in a World Championship final in Finland. To be honest I don’t even care what happened, our team was golden and I will always remember it. Our effort went well beyond the color of the medal.”
Since Hovi returned back home, she has spoken with The Ice Garden where she said in a brief statement regarding her decision, “I want to thank everyone who has supported me along the way: coaches, friends, family, fans. The biggest thank you goes to my teammates. Nothing will ever replace the emotions that I got to experience with my amazing teammates; the memories will always stay on my mind.”
Ending her professional career as a silver medal recipient, Hovi has also won three championships with SM-Saria, now known as Naisten Liiga. In addition to this, she adds two with Ilves and one with HPK.
Given her Finnish background, what is interesting to note is that Hovi now becomes the first Finnish player to win the CWHL’s coveted Clarkson Cup. Prior to beginning her career in professional women’s hockey, Hovi spent a season playing with Niagara University of the NCAA, starting off at the collegiate level before moving to Manitoba in 2015.
Given the uncertain direction of professional women’s hockey in Canada at this time, Hovi also spoke about her change in focus while also discussing a new challenge up ahead, “Right now I feel relieved and excited to move on; it’s almost like starting a new life. I have a great support system of people in my life and education to help me move on and explore life after hockey.”
Following her graduation from the University of British Columbia, Hovi moved to an assistant coaching role, a position she looks to maintain. To that regard, Hovi said in a statement about the future, “I will also continue coaching so that I can stay in the game and help grow the game and hopefully help as many girls as possible to reach their dreams.”
In taking a deeper look at Venla Hovi on the international stage, she retires as a three-time Olympian while she adds two bronze medals as well. While Hovi wrapped up her career at the Women’s World Championship with Team Finland, it makes for her eighth time taking part in the tournament where she owns three bronze as well as one silver.