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Finnish Hockey

Little "Tik"
Esa Tikkanen was a mascot for club team Jokerit during the early 1970s. His father served as manager at the Helsinki Icehall which enabled the youngster plenty of ice time.

First NHLer
Albert Pudas is recognized as the first Finnish player to reach the NHL. He also served as head coach of Team Canada when they lost to the Great Britain in the 1936 World Championships.

First Rink
Finland's first rink is shown here during a 1929 league game. The national champions that year was HJK Helsinki.

All-Time Best
In 1996, Finnish magazine "Kiekko" selected the top 50 all-time players of Finland. The ten top players were: Jari Kurri (1); Temmu Selanne (2); Saku Koivu (3); Pekka Rautakallio (4); Veli-Pekka Ketola (5); Reijo Ruotsalainen (6); Esa Tikkanen (7); Lasse Oksanen (8); Urpo Ylonen (9); and Teppo Numminen (10).

The First Finnish Champions
Reipas Vipurin were the first national champions of Finland. In 1928, they defeated KIF Helsinki to claim the title.

A Star Is Born
Jari Kurri scores the championship winner at the 1978 European Junior Championships.

Golden Helmet
The leading scorer for a club team wears a golden helmet

Forever Rivals
Sweden won the first match between these nordic rivals when the Gota club of Stockholm defeated the Helsinki Selects 8-1 in Helsinki on Jan. 29, 1928. Because the two countries have a common border and there is a large Swedish community in western Finland, the rivalry has developed into one of the world's hottest over the years. Sweden has dominated the series and was able to dodge the Finns on its way to an Olympic gold medal in Lillehammer in 1994. In 1995 Finland finally got its revenge, and in a memorable way. The Finns defeated Sweden 4-1 at the Globe Arena in Stockholm to win their first World Championship gold medal. It was bad enough that the victory came on Swedish ice, but Finland rubbed salt in Sweden's wounds by using a Swedish coach, Curt Lindstrom, to mastermind the victory. When the two countries met for the right to advance to the semifinals of the 1996 World Cup, it was the Swedes who triumphed. Once again Finland exacted revenge. With 20 NHL players in its lineup, compared to just 13 for Finland, Sweden was heavily favored when the two teams met in the quarterfinals of the 1998 Olympic tournament. Finland pulled a huge 2-1 upset and went on to win a bronze medal with an even bigger 3-2 surprise win over Canada.

Tampere: A Tale Of Two Teams
It's enough for a city of less than 200,000 to have two elite hockey clubs, but for fans in Tampere, Finland, the rivalry between the Ilves and Tappara club's is often more important than the Finnish League championship itself. In the early years, players on both clubs were mostly homebrews and neither club even tried to recruit a star from the other. An interesting trend in the rivalry has been that the team that is playing worse overall in a particular season, usually holds the upper hand in the head-to-head matches. One of the greatest showdowns came during the NHL lockout in the 1994-95 season. Tappara, which had not won in 12 straight games, the longest losing streak in its history, took a 1-0 lead, but Ilves tied the score in the dying minutes to force overtime. Calgary Flames star Theoren Fleury then won a faceoff in the Ilves zone and scored the winning goal to snap the Tappara losing streak.

World Championship Regular
Lasse Oksanen holds the Finnish record for most World Championship appearances with 13.

Olympic Debut
Finland's first Olympic appearance was at the 1952 Winter Olympics in Oslo. The team placed seventh and was led by Christian Rapp's five goals.

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