Shooting league winner Matilda Nilsson hopes to play in Sweden – in Finland the only alternative is playing with boys: "Sad that the women’s league is not at international level"

Ice hockey player Matilda Nilsson is without a club. Last season she scored goals in HIFK’s jersey, but now the domestic league is not an option. Regardless of where the career continues, the goal is to make a comeback in the national team.

Last season Matilda Nilsson represented HIFK in the women’s league where she won FM silver. Individually, it was a superior victory in the shooting league and third place in the scoring league.

– I have a tough training summer under my belt. I have trained with junior boys and also with league and NHL players. I have trained hard and decided that I want to play with the boys, says Nilsson to Yle Urheilu.

– I have always kept the door open for games in Sweden or other foreign leagues. It will probably become clear within a couple of weeks if I leave Finland or stay here to play with boys.

Points League 2021–22
Player Balance
1. Estelle Duvin, TPS 31+26=57
2. Elisa Holopainen, K-Espoo 29+27=56
3. Matilda Nilsson, HIFK 37+18=55

The only thing that is clear is that there will be no continuation in the women’s league for Nilsson, who is looking for new challenges.

– Of course, it is sad that we have come to a situation where it feels like the women’s league does not meet international standards. A contributing factor is that many players have left the league for university hockey or games in Sweden.

Matilda Nilsson outwits Anni Keisala.
Matilda Nilsson outwits Ilve’s cage keeper Anni Keisala. The Finnish national team goalkeeper now plays for HV71 in Sweden.

Photo: Tomi Hänninen / Yle

In Sweden it is possible to get paid, while it costs to play in Finland. Only in two league clubs – HIFK and HPK – is it free of charge, in the other clubs the ladies themselves have to shell out 585–2,900 euros per season. The amount often varies.

– Some players receive sponsors, greater benefits or less compensation. All players in a club should have the same conditions. In Sweden, a salary is paid, regardless of what level you hold. There is not much inequality there. In Sweden, the cooperation with the men’s team is also more extensive, says Nilsson.

She would prefer to continue her career in Sweden.

– So to speak, I have everything in my own hands, even if it is still open. I have applied for a study place, it would be about multi-form studies. I should come to Finland to participate in the selection test.

Matilda Nilsson stands on the ice.
Matilda Nilsson wants to return to the national team.

Image: Mikko Ahmajärvi / Yle

Nilsson was allowed to make his WC debut in 2021, but was neither in this year’s Olympic nor WC squad. She has not been in contact with head coach Juuso Toivola lately.

– Of course I’m aiming for national team games, I want to represent Finland, and I’m waiting to get the chance again. I haven’t spoken to Juuso after the WC. I hope he gives me the chance, so far I haven’t had a real opportunity to show what I’m about. Juuso knows he can make contact.

During the autumn, Nilsson trained with HIFK’s B-juniors and played with Salamat’s U17 boys, who are in the Finland series. During the weekend, she played until a goal when Salamat defeated Kiekko-Espoo 6–2.

– It has been fun to play. It’s a little different, you have to be prepared for tackles by tall opponents. But it has been incredibly fun. They are quite tough and physical, I have had good training. I have been really grateful to be able to train with them, says Nilsson.

The article is a processed translation of Hinni Hirvonen’s article Mihin 37 maalia iskenyt tähkiekkoilija katosi? Matilda Nilsson currently prefers to play with the women’s Liigassa for Yle Urheilu. The translation was made by Mattias Forsblom.

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