Laaksonen making her fourth appearance for Finland; Kesler and Chesson to skate for U.S.

Five former Buckeyes will enter the ice rink in Vancouver in the coming weeks to skate for glory under the Olympic rings.

Ryan Kesler, who played for the Buckeye men’s team in 2002-03, was named to the U.S. Olympic Men’s Team, while a total of four current or former women’s hockey Buckeyes will compete for their respective home countries.

Lisa Chesson, a defenseman for the Ohio State women’s hockey team from 2005-08, earned a slot on the U.S. Women’s Team, while former Buckeye All-American Tessa Bonhomme, women’s team defenseman from 2004-08, has been nominated to the Canadian National Women’s Team.

A pair of Buckeyes will help lead the Finnish National Team in February. Former defenseman Emma Laaksonen and current freshman forward Minttu Tuominen will look to push Finland to a potential medal. Laaksonen will be making her fourth Olympic appearance with Finland.

“We are thrilled to watch the Olympics and see four Buckeyes competing for three different countries,” Jackie Barto, Ohio State women’s hockey coach, said. “We are very proud of their accomplishments and the way they represent their countries, Ohio State and the sport of women’s hockey. They have all worked extremely hard to reach this level of play and it will be wonderful to watch them compete on international stage in Vancouver.”

Bohomme will be the first Buckeye women’s hockey product to represent Canada in the Olympics. She was one of the last two players cut from the Canada’s women’s roster for the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin.
 A native of Sudbury, Ontario, Bonhomme was a member of the gold medal-winning Canadian National Women’s Team and earned silver at the 2009 World Women’s Championships.

A product of Plainfield, Ill., Chesson, was a member of the gold medal-winning U.S. Women’s National Team at the 2009 IIHF World Women’s Championships last April. The U.S. Olympic Women’s Hockey Team has medaled in all three Olympic appearances to date (gold-1998, silver-2002, bronze-2006). 

A two-time participant in the World Junior Championship and a U.S. National Team Development Program product, Kesler will not have to travel far to realize his Olympic dream. He is a current member of the Vancouver Canucks of the National Hockey League. Kesler is the first former Buckeye to play for the U.S. team.

Ohio State’s first All-America selection in 2002, Laaksonen has been a cornerstone in the development of women’s hockey in Finland. She has served in various leadership roles, including co-captain of the team at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Turin, and in 1998 helped Team Finland to the bronze medal to become the youngest Olympian to medal for the country at 16 years old. Finland finished fourth at the 2002 and ’06 games.    Laaksonen was inducted into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame last September and her No. 3 was retired by the Ohio State women’s hockey program in October 2008.

Tuominen has competed with the Finnish National Team throughout the last two years, including two international competitions during the 2009-10 season. She has eight points (3g, 5a) in 16 games with the Buckeyes this season.

NOTE: The equipment manager for the U.S. Women’s Olympic Team will be Jim Jeans, equipment manager for the Ohio State women’s hockey team. It will be his first Olympics after serving as equipment manager for various U.S. Women’s National and Select Teams over the last three years. Jeans has been equipment manager for the Buckeyes since the 2005-06 season.

~ by Leann Parker and Courtney Walerius,