Finland is 100 years old today.
It has been a rich history. It is a young country, with myself being alive for almost a third of it.
In honour of #Finland100. Here is 90 years of Finnish hockey champions:
Starting with the 1927-1928 season with six teams the Finnish championship started with the SM-Sarja.
“S” for Suomen meaning Finnish.
“M” for Mestaruus meaning Championship
“Sarja” meaning series
The first year consisted of the following teams:
Viipurin Reipas – Viipuri Swift
HIFK – Sporting Society Comrades, Helsinki – Future 7 time champions
HJK – Helsinki Football Club – Future 3 time champions
KIF – Kruununhaka Sports Club (Helsinki) – Future 3 time champions
Tapa – Tampere Ballers – Future champions
HPS – Helsinki Ball Club
With ice hockey still being a very new sport in 1927 the victory went to Viipurin Reipas, primarily a football and bandy club. Located in Viipuri, a city which was lost to Russia after the Winter War.
At this stage ice hockey was purely an amateur sport, with sports clubs taking part in ice hockey as part of a larger program. Most often football in the summer and ice hockey in the winter, but also combined with other sports.
After Viipuri the championship went to Helsinki, with their football club. While no longer active in ice hockey they are still active in the highest level of Finnish football.
The Helsinki – Tampere fight for hockey championship was established early, with 1930-1930 seeing a standing of:
The next few years also saw the Helsinki Figure Skating Club (HSK) win the championship, three times in total.
1939 to 1945 were crucial years for Finnish history. The war with Russia was one for the survival of Finland as a whole.
Some sacrifices had to be made.
The 1939-1940 season was completely called of for the Winter War. During which the captain of Tampere Ilves (3 time champions at the time, and 16 time champions all time) Jussi Tiitola was killed, among others.
The 1940–1941 season was played in between hostilities as an 8 team series.
1941–1942 was cancelled for the Continuation War.
1942–1943 was played as an 8 team series. With KIF winning their third championship in a row, discluding pauses for war.
The 1943–1944 season was started but a mass bombing of the Helsinki Kaisaniemi stadium called the season short. It was agreed that if Tampere Ilves (who had 0 losses at the time) could beat Tarmo and KIF they would be awarded the championship. They beat Tarmo, but unfortunately the transport connections between Tampere and Helsinki were bombed the day before the Ilves – KIF match. Thus the championship was never awarded.
The after war period saw a domination from the Tampere. With 18 championships in 24 years. With Ilves winning 11 and TBJ/Tappara winning 6 and KOO-VEE 1.
But notably champions from other cities aside from Helsinki and Tampere emerged.
Like TPS from Turku first champions in 1956, but future 11 time champions.
Tarmo (no longer active) from Hämeenlinna winning two in a row.
Lukko from Rauma winning their only championship so far in 1963, coming close in the future; with silver: 1961, 1966, 1988, and bronze: 1965, 1969, 1994, 1996, 2011, 2014.
And Pori, with RU-38 in 1967, Porin Karhut in 1965, and together as Porin Ässät (Pori Aces) in 1971.
While the SM-Series was mainly amateur it changed into the SM-Liiga in 1975, bringing with it a move to a professional sport.
This also introduced the playoffs to determine the overall champions. Also a relegation system was introduced, with teams coming last in the SM-Liiga facing relegation to a lower division and giving lower teams and opportunity for promotion.
The first championship outside of Southern Finland went to Oulu in 1981.
1985 was the latest championship for Ilves, their 16th in total.
Kärpät won again in 2004, and 2005 with back to back championships. With two more back to back championships to come.
With JYP from Jyväskylä winning in 2008 the total of cities with victories comes to 9.
The Ilves crown of 16 championships was met by Tappara (formerly TBK) in 2016, and beat in 2017 with back-to-back victories.
Here’s to another 100 years and more of hockey in Finland.