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Unto Wiitala

Born July 5, 1925 in Kuolemajarvi, Finland. Goalkeeper and Referee. Unto Wiitala began his playing career in 1946 in Karhu-Kissat Helsinki and retired as a player in 1959 with Tarmo Hameenlinna. Aside from winning the Best Goalkeeper Award three times, he also earned a silver medal in the Finnish National Championships. Internationally, Wiitala played in the 1952 Olympic Winter Games in Oslo, Norway and represented Finland in five IIHF World Championship tournaments. Immediately upon retirement as a player, Wiitala made a quick transition to a referee which spanned 15 accomplished seasons, including selection as Best Referee on four occasions in the Finnish League. During that time, he also officiated at two Olympic Winter Games and three IIHF World Championships. Later, Wiitala became a valuable member of the IIHF Referee Committee member, and served many years as Referee-in-Chief for the Finnish Hockey League and until recently, as Chairman of the Board to Finland's Hockey Hall of Fame Museum, where he was himself inducted back in 1985. Today, as a tribute to his service and dedication, Finland's Referee of the Year Award is appropriately named the "Unto Wiitala" Trophy.

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