Antero Pertti Elias Niittymäki (Finnish pronunciation: [ˈantero ˈniːtːymæki]; born June 18, 1980) is a Finnish former professional ice hockey goaltender who last played for TPS of the SM-liiga (Finnish elite league). He additionally played in the National Hockey League (NHL) with the Philadelphia Flyers, Tampa Bay Lightning and San Jose Sharks. At the 2006 Winter Olympics, while playing for Team Finland, he was voted the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the entire ice hockey tournament.
Niittymäki with the Philadelphia Flyers
June 18, 1980|
|Height||6 ft 1 in (185 cm)|
|Weight||190 lb (86 kg; 13 st 8 lb)|
Tampa Bay Lightning
San Jose Sharks
168th overall, 1998|
Partway through his four-year junior career with TPS in the junior SM-liiga, Niittymäki was selected by the Flyers 168th overall in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft. He continued to play in Finland with TPS for his first year out of the junior leagues, and he won the Finnish elite league's Rookie of the Year trophy. After two more seasons with TPS, Niittymäki moved to North America to join the Philadelphia Phantoms in the American Hockey League (AHL). When the Phantoms won the AHL Calder Cup championship, he was named the MVP of the playoffs. He then played four seasons for the Philadelphia Flyers before signing as a free agent with the Tampa Bay Lightning. One year later, he signed as a free agent with the San Jose Sharks, but he did not play many games for them over the next two years due to hip injuries. He played his final season with his youth team TPS, and he announced his retirement in 2013.
From 1995 to 2002, Niittymäki played for TPS in the SM-liiga (Finnish elite league), playing in the junior SM-liiga prior to 1999. In 2000, he won the Jarmo Wasama memorial trophy for Rookie of the Year, and led TPS to their second straight SM-liiga championship.
Niittymäki was the Philadelphia Flyers' 6th round pick (168th overall) in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft. "I didn't even know I got drafted. I found out the next morning. I was really surprised," he said in an interview in November 2003. Even if he had opted to go immediately to the United States to play hockey, compulsory military service kept Niittymäki in Finland until January 2001. He would return to TPS in 2012 for his final season, playing 14 games.
From 2002 to 2005, Niittymäki played for the Flyers in the NHL and the Philadelphia Phantoms, the Flyers' American Hockey League affiliate. Niittymäki was successful in the AHL. He was named the Sher-Wood AHL Player of the Week for the week ending on November 23, 2003 after posting a 0.41 GAA and .984 SP. He played for PlanetUSA in the 2005 AHL All-Star Game. The Phantoms organization gave out Antero Niittymäki bobbleheads on February 27, 2005 and Niittymäki figurines on March 3, 2006.
Niittymäki scored a game-winning, empty net, overtime, shorthanded, unassisted goal on April 11, 2004 versus the Hershey Bears. The game ended 3–2, with Niittymäki recording 32 saves as well, which finished the 12–0 Philadelphia season sweep of the Bears.
The Phantoms won the Calder Cup in 2005 after sweeping the Chicago Wolves. Niittymäki received the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy for being the MVP in the Calder Cup Playoffs. He had a 1.75 GAA and 15 wins, three of which were shutouts.
Niittymäki played three games for the Flyers in February 2004. He was allowed to play after Robert Esche was injured and Jeff Hackett was forced to retire because of vertigo. He won all three games, posting a 1.00 GAA, against the Washington Capitals, Atlanta Thrashers and New Jersey Devils. His starting stint ended after the Flyers acquired Sean Burke from the Phoenix Coyotes. Upon Esche's recovery, Burke took over the backup job and Niittymäki was sent back down to the Phantoms.
Niittymäki started the 2005–06 season as the Flyers' backup goalie for Esche. On October 14, 2005, Niittymäki let in a questionable goal immediately after a faceoff on the Pittsburgh Penguins' side of center ice. He was watching a JumboTron replay when Maxime Talbot softly shot at him and scored.
While Esche was on the injury list, Niittymäki got the opportunity to start with Jamie Storr being his backup goalie. Niittymäki started seventeen consecutive games while Esche was unable to play. He recorded his first NHL shutout and assist/point during this time. He was named the NHL Defensive Player of the week for the week ending on 8 January 2006.
The 2006–07 NHL season revolved around injuries for Niittymäki. He suffered a torn labrum injury to his left hip during training camp. Doctors decided to try giving him cortisone shots to postpone surgery, which would have sidelined him for 6–8 weeks. The first shot allowed him to get back on the ice for the start of the season, but by late December he needed another shot. Despite this, he managed to take over the starting goaltender position from Esche, after Esche fell out with the coaching staff and management. However, Philadelphia acquired Martin Biron and he was given the starting position for the rest of the year. Niittymäki finally had hip surgery in summer 2008. He continued to play backup goaltender for the Flyers for the next two seasons (07–08 and 08–09), setting a franchise record for most saves in a game in January 2008.
The 2009 NHL offseason marked the first time in Niittymäki's NHL playing career that he was an unrestricted free agent. After the Philadelphia Flyers acquired goaltenders Ray Emery and Brian Boucher, Niittymäki signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning as a back-up goalie for Mike Smith, however, he started many games, while Smith struggled with injuries.
Niittymäki started his 2009–2010 season with great success; after his first ten games, he led the league in both save percentage (.939) and goals against average (1.93). Niittymäki won four straight games in February 2010, something that had not occurred for Tampa Bay since two and a half years prior, when the team won five straight in the 2007–08 season (November). On March 25, 2010, Niittymäki won his 20th game in the season and the Tampa Bay Lightning's 500th franchise victory, while setting his second NHL franchise record for most saves in a game. Niittymäki extended his lifetime winning streak against the Atlanta Thrashers to 17 wins on March 6, 2010.
On the first day of free agency in summer 2010, Niittymäki was signed to replace long time San Jose Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov because of salary cap considerations. Niittymäki played strongly at the beginning of the season, earning the Sharks Player of the Month award in October. However, he sustained another lower body injury, resulting in him missing 17 games, during which Antti Niemi solidified his standing as the starting goaltender. Before his second year in San Jose, Niittymäki had hip surgery. During his recovery process, he played a few games with the Sharks' AHL affiliate, the Worcester Sharks. He was ultimately loaned to the AHL's Syracuse Crunch for the rest of the season, but he only played eight games.
|Men's ice hockey|
Niittymäki was named to the Team Finland for the 2006 Winter Olympics after Kari Lehtonen and Miikka Kiprusoff had to pull out due to injuries. Despite being a relative unknown with little top-level experience, he put in a stellar performance and was named the MVP of the tournament after posting 3 shutouts in 6 games, leading Finland to the silver medal.
Niittymäki played for Finland in the 2006 IIHF World Championships until the last game of the qualifying round against Canada, in which he got injured and was replaced by the team's reserve goalie Fredrik Norrena.
In the 2010 Winter Olympics Niittymäki was selected to the team as Finland's third goalie, behind Miikka Kiprusoff and Niklas Bäckström. However he did not see any action during the tournament.
- 2000: Jarmo Wasama Memorial Trophy
- Kanada-malja championship: TPS, 2000 and 2001
- Sher-Wood AHL Player of the Week – week ending on 16 November 2003
- Philadelphia Phantoms Toyota Player of the Month for January, March, November 2004
- 2005: Played in AHL All-Star Game
- Calder Cup championship: Philadelphia Phantoms, 2005
- 2005: Jack A. Butterfield Trophy
- 2005: Phantoms All Decade Second Team
- NHL Defensive Player of the Week – week ending on 8 January 2006 - shared with David Aebischer
- 2006 Winter Olympics men's ice hockey Most Valuable Player and member of the media All-Star team
- San Jose Sharks Player of the Month for October 2010
|North American pro-hockey||First goaltender to record an overtime goal||April 11, 2004|||
|Philadelphia Phantoms' franchise||First goal by a goaltender||April 11, 2004|||
|Lowest career GAA||2.19 GAA|
|Lowest GAA during the postseason||1.75 GAA||2005|
|Most saves in a period during a playoff game||23 saves, 1st period||April 29, 2005|
|Most saves in the postseason||611 saves||2005|
|Most shutouts in a season||7 shutouts||2003–04|
|Most shutouts in the postseason||3 shutouts, tied with Neil Little||2005|
|Most wins by a goalie in a season||33 wins||2004-05|
|National Hockey League||Most consecutive wins against a single team||17 against the Atlanta Thrashers
tied with Chris Osgood
|February 5, 2004 -
October 10, 2010
|Philadelphia Flyers' franchise||Most saves in a game||54 saves||January 5, 2008|||
|First shootout win||December 6, 2005|||
|Most losses by a goalie in a season||29 losses
tied with Bernie Parent
|Drafted by Philadelphia as their 6th round pick (168th overall)||June 27, 1998|||
|Signed as an unrestricted free agent by Tampa Bay||July 10, 2009|||
|Signed as a free agent by San Jose for two years||July 1, 2010|||
|2009–10||Tampa Bay Lightning||NHL||49||21||18||—||5||2657||127||1||2.87||.909|
|2010–11||San Jose Sharks||NHL||24||12||7||—||3||1414||64||0||2.72||.896|
|2010–11||San Jose Sharks||NHL||2||1||0||91||1||0||0.66||.967|
|Senior int'l totals||10||7||2||1||571||14||5||1.53||.939|
- http://www.olympic.neostrada.pl/ols/2006TORnr3.pdf Archived October 6, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
- National Hockey League. Antero Niittymäki player profile at NHL.com. Retrieved 14 July 2010.
- Antero Niittymäki profile at Eurohockey.com
- Meltzer, Bill. Flyers European Update Archived November 11, 2004, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 5 January 2006.
- Lampinen, Pekka. Finnish goaltenders since the mid-90's Archived November 5, 2004, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 5 January 2006.
- Alven, Al. From Finland to Philly? Antero Niittymaki may arrive in 2002–03 Archived November 18, 2004, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 5 January 2006.
- Internet Hockey Database. 1998 NHL Entry Draft Archived November 1, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 14 July 2010.
- Philadelphia Phantoms. Post-game interview Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine on 23 November 2003
- Philadelphia Phantoms. (17 November 2003). Niittymaki Named Sher-Wood AHL Player of the Week. Press release. Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
- American Hockey League. Game Summary: 2005 AHL All-Star game. Retrieved 14 July 2010.
- Philadelphia Phantoms. (15 February 2005). Niittymaki Bobblehead Doll Giveaway on Feb 27. Press release. Archived March 8, 2005, at the Wayback Machine
- Philadelphia Phantoms. (14 February 2006). Phantoms Makeup Date Announced. Press release. Archived June 29, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
- Philadelphia Phantoms. (11 April 2004). Niittymaki Scores in OT to Give Phantoms 3–2 Win in Hershey. Press release. Archived December 15, 2005, at the Wayback Machine
- *Hockey Goalies. Antero Niittymaki. Retrieved 15 July 2010.
- Philadelphia Phantoms. (10 June 2005). Phantoms Are Calder Cup Champions. Press release. Archived February 24, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
- Philadelphia Flyers. (3 February 2004). Niittymaki to Make His NHL Debut on Wednesday. Press release 1431. Inactive, no archive.
- Philadelphia Flyers. (9 February 2004). Flyers Goaltender Jeff Hackett Announces His Retirement. Press release 1443. Inactive, no archive.
- Philadelphia Flyers. (13 February 2004). Flyers Move On After Multiple Injuries. Press release 1452. Inactive, no archive.
- Philadelphia Flyers. (25 February 2004). Esche Cleared to Return. Press release 1478. Inactive, no archive.
- Philadelphia Flyers. (14 October 2005). Flyers Survive in Overtime Against Penguins, 6–5. Press release.
- Philadelphia Flyers. (6 December 2005). Flyers Defeat Calgary in Shootout, 1–0. Press release.
- Philadelphia Flyers. (20 January 2006). Esche to Start Saturday Against Penguins. Press release.
- Philadelphia Flyers. (27 January 2006). Niittymaki Expected Starter for Team Finland. Press release.
- Tampa Bay Lightning. (10 July 2009). Lightning Sign Free Agent Goaltender Antero Niittymaki. Press release.
- Philadelphia Flyers. (28 December 2006). Holmgren Updates Status of Niittymaki. Press release.
- Philadelphia Flyers. (22 October 2007). Niittymaki Ready for Action. Press release.
- Philadelphia Flyers. (6 December 2007). Common Goal. Press release.
- Philadelphia Flyers. (21 October 2008). Niittymaki Back in Net. Press release.
- Philadelphia Flyers. (14 June 2007). Flyers Sign Antero Niittymaki to New Two-Year Contract. Press release.
- National Hockey League. (5 September 2008). Get yourself a workhorse for a goaltender Archived November 17, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
- "Antero Niittymaki's player profile". TSN.ca. Archived from the original on June 20, 2008. Retrieved September 30, 2014.
- Philadelphia Flyers. (10 June 2009). Flyers Agree to One-Year Contract with Ray Emery. Press release.
- Philadelphia Flyers. (1 July 2009). Boucher, Laperriere Join Flyers. Press release.
- Goalies World. In goal this week: Week 08, ending on Sunday, November 22nd 2009. Retrieved 15 July 2010.
- Tampa Bay Lightning.. Schedule and Results. Retrieved 15 July 2010.
- Cristodero, Damian. "Tampa Bay Lightning defeats Boston Bruins 5–3" Archived May 31, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. Tampa Bay Times, 26 March 2010.
- Tampa Bay Lightning. (6 March 2010). Niitty looks to end team's losing streak, extend his winning streak against the Thrashers. Press release.
- CBS Sports. (1 July 2010). Sharks sign cheaper Niittymaki to replace Nabokov in goal. Wire report.
- San Jose Sharks. (1 July 2010). Niittymaki Signs With San Jose. Press release.
- San Jose Sharks. (1 July 2010). Niittymaki Ready For The West. Press release.
- San Jose Sharks. (6 November 2010). Niittymaki Is Top Player For October.. Press release.
- San Jose Sharks. (8 February 2011). Antero Niittymaki Will Dress Tuesday. Press release.
- San Jose Sharks. (5 March 2011). Sharks Get Back A Healthy Niittymaki. Press release.
- The Sports Network. (22 September 2011). Report: Sharks' Niittymaki out 12 weeks after hip surgery.
- Mercury News. (19 January 2012). Sharks send Niittymaki to Worcester for second part of conditioning assignment, likely showcase starts.
- Syracuse Crunch. (7 February 2012). Antero Niittymaki loaned to Crunch. Press release.
- Ellis, Steven. (12 April 2013). Former NHLer Antero Niittymäki Calls It A Career Archived July 27, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.
- Anthony SanFilippo (June 5, 2013). "NIITTY-GRITTY SCOUTING". Philadelphia Flyers. Retrieved June 5, 2013.
- Sports Illustrated. 16 May 2006.In NHL Truths and Rumors via CNN.
- Tampa Bay Lightning. (30 December 2009). Niittymaki Named to Team Finland for 2010 Olympics. Press release.
- National Hockey League. NHL Olympic Player Tracker for Saturday, Feb. 27 2010.
- Philadelphia Phantoms. (2 February 2004). Niittymaki Named Toyota Player of the Month for January. Press release. Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
- Philadelphia Phantoms. (2 April 2004). Niittymaki Named Toyota Player of the Month for March. Press release. Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
- Philadelphia Phantoms. (1 December 2004). Niittymaki Named Player of the Month for November. Press release. Archived December 13, 2004, at the Wayback Machine
- Philadelphia Phantoms. (22 December 2005). Phantoms Announce All-Decade Team. Press release. Archived February 23, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
- East Coast Hockey League, (3 February 2006). David Aebischer Archived October 29, 2006, at the Wayback Machine. Press release.
- Philadelphia Phantoms. Records – Regular Season Individual. Retrieved 2 January 2005. Archived March 28, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
- Philadelphia Phantoms. Records – Playoff. Retrieved 2 January 2005. Archived March 28, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
- Tampa Bay Lightning. (13 November 2008). Tampa Bay Falls To Red Wings, 4–3 Archived March 9, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. Press release.
- Hockey Goalies. Chris Osgood. Retrieved 15 July 2010.
- Cristodero, Damian. Niittymaki improves to 16–0 against Atlanta as Tampa Bay wins 2–1 Archived May 11, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. Tampa Bay Times, 3 February 2010.
- Associated Press, via Entertainment Sports Programming Network. (16 November 2008). Niittymaki improves to 11–0 vs. Thrashers, stops Atlanta's five-game win streak.
- Philadelphia Flyers at Atlanta Thrashers, February 5, 2004, Boxscore
- Vivlamore, Chris. (17 October 2010). Updated: Thrashers score four straight goals to defeat Sharks Archived July 27, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
- Philadelphia Flyers.. Schedule and Results. Retrieved 15 July 2010.
- Antero Niittymäki career statistics at The Internet Hockey Database
- Biographical information and career statistics from NHL.com, or Eliteprospects.com, or Eurohockey.com, or Hockey-Reference.com, or Legends of Hockey, or The Internet Hockey Database
- E-mail the Phantoms:"Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved 2006-02-25.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
- Phun Phacts: http://www.phantomshockey.com/phanphorum/phunphacts/NiittymakiAntero.asp at the Wayback Machine (archive index)
- SM-liiga official website; including official statistics
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Antero Niittymäki.|
| Winner of the Jarmo Wasama memorial trophy
| Winner of the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy