Saturday, March 24, 2012

Ice hockey for beginners

It's the play-off season in the Finnish ice hockey league. I have no understanding or passion towards ice hockey, but this is what I've learnt: just pick a favorite team and stand by the team in good times and in bad - that's the best way to mingle and bond with the sports people of Finland. But please be warned, ice hockey may just be the topic that reveals the full scale of feelings within always-so-calm-and-neutral Finns. The feelings can be anything between joy and rage. For example, to my experience people get very happy, they even start to laugh, whenever I'm praising SaiPa as the best team in the league.

I hope the list below helps you to get familiar with who's who in the Finnish ice hockey league. And once you're familiar with the teams, you're ready for full scale hockey debate.

  • HIFK - The traditional team of Helsinki. People who have lived in Helsinki for generations are fans of HIFK. They have the image of pure, genuine, uncorrupted, rough and no-bullshitting team who raises their own juniors to stars.
  • Jokerit - The new, go-getter team of Helsinki. HIFK fans think that the name Jokerit originates from joke. Money talks, so they purchase their players from other teams.
  • Espoo Blues - A team name without a history. Some say it reflects Espoo as a city without a history. I preferred the old name of the team: Kiekko-Espoo, Puck-Espoo.
  • SaiPa - One of the wonders of the East, Lappeenranta. The best team in the league, as long as you don't get stuck with the details, such as the games they've won, or the goals they've scored or kept.
  • KalPa - The best team in the league, even when counting the goals and points. My symphaties are on Kalpa's side, after all, they are a small town team from Kuopio.
  • Tappara and Ilves - The two Tampere teams which you can't differentiate from each other. If you're poetic, you can always start a conversation with "kannatetaan Tapparaa ja syödään mustaa makkaraa" - let's stand for Tappara and try some black sausage.
  • Kärpät - A skillful team from Oulu. The fans are pure hooligans.

To be honest, the only form of ice hockey I really enjoy is the hockey league salmiakki candies. But if I'm in a position to choose whichever one of the orange candies, I naturally try to pick one with SaiPa logo.


  1. Very interesting and somehow I found this post so funny, too! I agree with you especially on the definition of Jokerit.

    1. Thanks Paula! You're the professional here... :)