VIENNA – The Austrian Ice Hockey Association named Pekka Hämäläinen new head coach of the women’s national team.
The Finn will replace Christian Yngve from Sweden to lead the Austrian women’s national team in the 2013/2014 season. He signed a one-year contract.
His fellow countryman Jyri Kuivala, who has led the U15 women’s national team, will be his assistant coach with a special focus on off-ice training.
Hämäläinen brings experience from the highest level of Finnish hockey with him. The 59-year-old played for Kiekkoreipas Lahti in the top Finnish league as a defenceman and coached KalPa Kuopio in the SM-liiga in the ‘90s where he also was a sports director.
In 1997 he joined the Finnish Ice Hockey Association where he was coaching junior national teams from U15 to U18, winning the bronze at the 2001 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship.
Later he moved to the women’s program where he first coached the U18 women’s national team in the 2008/2009 season. From 2009 to 2012 he was behind the bench of the Finnish women’s national team which he led to Olympic bronze in Vancouver 2010 and to another bronze at the 2011 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship.
The Austrian women’s national team, ranked 12th, missed out on the qualification for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games and will participate in the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Division I Group A in Prerov, Czech Republic, instead from 6 to 12 April 2014.
Against the Czech Republic, Denmark, Slovakia, Norway and France, the Austrians aim to win a medal. Nine camps and approximately 14 exhibition games are scheduled until the event.
“I expect from the players that they are motivated to work hard to achieve the next steps,” Hämäläinen said.
“Austria’s women’s hockey program is still very young but it has already had some success. To be 12th in the IIHF Women’s World Ranking is remarkable. We will do everything to make the next steps forward and I believe in the team’s potential and that we can win a medal in the Czech Republic, but only if we continue to work and practise hard.”