Puckarinen Hits A Post
Entries with the tag: finland
On May 20, in some European capital*, people will be storming the streets, bathing in the city’s fountains, and dressing up statues with their national team hockey sweaters. They’ll be driving up and down the streets, honking their horns, with their flags sticking out of the car windows, waving in the wind. People will be singing national anthems in unison, and they will be screaming the names of their hockey heroes to nobody in particular.
That’s what winning the hockey World Championship does to people.
And that was the second Finnish Winter Classic. A real Helsinki derby, with the reds, IFK, taking on the whites, Jokerit, in front of 35 000 people in the Helsinki Olympic Stadium. The home team, IFK, won the game in a shootout, 3-2. And you know there’s magic in the air when the nicest play of the game is Jarkko Ruutu’s forehand-backhand deke in the shootout.
Last year, the home team - then Jokerit - lost the game so IFK is now 2-0 in their outdoor games in the SM-liiga.
While the February 2011 derby was the first outdoor game in the Finnish league history, it wasn’t that long ago the Finnish top teams still battled for points while battling against snow and freezing cold. The league was founded in 1975, as an entity divorced from the federation.
Back then, the first indoor arena in the country was just ten years old. In the early 1970s, several of the rinks were converted into arenas, and surprisingly many are still - after renovations - home arenas to Finnish league teams.
When I was 17, many moons ago, I lived in a small Finnish town called Joensuu, in the eastern part of the country, about an hour from the Russian border. Except that it wasn’t the Russian border, it was the Soviet border, and it wasn’t such a big of a deal. There’s nothing on the other side of the border, anyway, just forest. There’s nothing else in about a hundred mile radius from the city.
There was no Internet, and therefore no YouTube, but there was rock’n’roll so my friends and I spent a lot of time sitting in each others’ rooms listening to tapes and records, and swapping tapes and records with each other.
And trying to learn those first few chords to Smoke on the Water.
(As it happens, still the only chords I know).
In six months, Sweden and Finland will co-host the 2012 World Championships. Hartwall Areena in Helsinki is the main venue, and therefore the host for the final rounds of the tournament, while the Globe Arena in Sweden will host the group that Sweden plays its preliminary round games - as well as the quarterfinals.
In 2013, the roles will be reversed, and Stockholm will be the main venue, and Helsinki the other one.
This way, both Finland and Sweden will get to play most of the next World Championships on home ice – which is nice.