Saturday, October 28, 2017

HIFK – Lukko (07-10-2017)

After seeing two soccer games at rather low level, I thought I would reward myself by going to see a hockey game in the highest division in Finland, the Liiga, traditionally one of the hockey supper powers in Europe.

Idrottsföreningen Kamraterna, Helsingfors (Sporting Society Comrades, Helsinki) plays in the Helsingin jäähalli (Helsinki Ice Hall), a modernized hockey stadium, originally built in 1966, which holds 8,200 people. I buy a ticket for 25.50, which puts me high in the corner, but still with a great view of the rink.

The stadium is almost two-thirds full, with an official attendance of 6,613, and has a cozy and lively atmosphere. The audience is white, but very mixed in age and class, with some 25 percent women. I don’t see many away supporters, but Lukko (Lock) is from the town of Rauma, in the Swedish speaking part of southwestern Finland, roughly 250 km (ca.  160 miles) from Helsinki.

While HIFK dominates the opening minutes, and even hits the post, but Lukko scores the first goal: 0-1 in the 6th minute. In the 16th minute HIFK gets a great chance in Power Play, but misses.. Two minutes later they do finish a rebound with a low, hard shot: 1-1. Despite two more good shot of the home team, two good saves by the Lukko goalie make 1-1 the score after the first period.

In the 3rd minute of the 2nd period a covered shot from 5 meters goes high in the goal: 2-1 for HIFK. The play becomes even messier, with many smaller and bigger mistakes on both sides, and very poor Power Play. They do like to hit the boarding hard, but overall the game is not rough. A few big misses ensure that 2-1 is the score after the second period.

At the beginning of the third period HIFK gets to play 6 against 4, as two Lukko players have penalties, and still the Power Play is bad. They miss three chances from about 2 meters. Seconds after Lukko is complete again, the hosts score with a “lost” shot in the corner: 3-1. The Power Play of Lukko isn’t good either. Overall, both teams miss a couple of chances, which means 3-1 is also the final score.

To be honest, I had expected better hockey in the Finnish top league, but maybe this was just a sloppy game. In any case, the atmosphere was really good and Helsinki Ice Hall is a cozy and real hockey arena any hockey fan should visit.

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