Kiprusoff ready for first Olympics

Flames goaltender to start for Team Finland

Thursday, 31.12.2009 / 1:08 PM / News
By Todd Kimberley
The potential squabble has been settled. Miikka Kiprusoff is Finland's starting goaltender for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics.

"Yeah, they named me as the starter," the Calgary Flames star goaltender said late Wednesday night, after backstopping the Flames to a 2-1 win over the visiting Los Angeles Kings.
 
"You never know, of course . . . (but) thats what they said, and that's what I'm aiming for."
 
Kiprusoff has certainly ruffled a few feathers back in his Scandinavian homeland on the Olympic issue. Four years ago, in Torino, he begged off complaining of a nagging hip injury, but did manage to play 74 games for the Flames during the 2005-06 season.
 
And in November, he told reporters in Anaheim: "If I'm not going to start for sure (in Vancouver), I think I'm going to take that time off and rest."
 
The ensuing controversy stung the 33-year-old netminder from Turku, who told the Calgary Herald just before Christmas: "I said something a couple of months ago and it was a huge story, so I'm done talking. Let's see what's going to happen. If they pick me, they pick me . . . let's talk about it then."
 
Well, the Finnish Ice Hockey Association did make it's picks Wednesday, with Kiprusoff, Minnesota's Niklas Backstrom and Tampa Bay's Antero Niittymaki chosen as the crease contingent.
 
"It's going to be fun, for sure," Kiprusoff told NHL.com late Wednesday, after speaking earlier in the day with Finnish coach Jukka Jalonen. "It's probably the only chance in my life to go to the Olympics, and Im looking forward to it."
 
Kiprusoff rose to prominence during the Flames run to the Stanley Cup final in the spring of 2004, winning the Vezina Trophy and being named as a first-team All-Star during the 2005-06 season.
 
He played in two world junior championships in the mid-1990s, and represented his country in a pair of world championships, in the spring of 1999 and 2001.
 
To date, Kiprusoff's most dramatic turn on the world stage was at the World Cup of Hockey in 2004, when he led the Finns to the tournament final. The host Canadians squeaked out a 3-2 win.
 
Kiprusoff watched with pride two years later as his countrymen battled all the way to the gold-medal final at the Torino Winter Games, falling 3-2 to Sweden.
 
A little jealous, perhaps?
 
"Not at all. Finland is a small country, so I know pretty much all the players, and I was really happy for them," Kiprusoff told NHL.com. "That was time for me to have a rest with my hip.
 
Hopefully I stay healthy this year, healthy enough to go. Everybody knows its going to be huge. It's in Canada. Good teams. An unbelievable tournament. So it's fun to be part of that."