The Lions lost the quarter-final match to Canada and were eliminated from the medal games of the World Hockey Championships.
There is nothing particularly surprising about it.
Finland played a good match on Thursday. The Lions had enough chances to score from the start. It was Kaapo Kako drive through, was Kasperi Kapanen open position
But inefficiency bothered me. Only Teemu Hartikainen succeeded in scoring.
Finland did not fail in the goalkeeping game either. Emil Larmi took care of his screen decently.
Canada was just better than Finland in this match. In every aspect. There was nothing left for anyone to explain.
The game system of the World Cup is merciless. One match decides whether the tournament was successful or not.
For the Lions, the loss is naturally a bitter disappointment, but it is not a disaster. And it’s not worth building a crisis even from the first series, even if there are flaws in Finland’s game.
There is, however, one reason to wonder about the Lions’ tournament. Why on earth Jukka Jalonen decided to mix up the offensive chains only in the third period of the quarterfinals?
In the closing set of the Canada game, Jalonen renewed everything in the attack. Finally, the stars from Turku, good friends Kakko and Mikko Rantanen. Why wasn’t the functionality of Kako and Rantanen’s joint play tested in the fast-paced games of the first series?
Well, there’s no need to worry about it anymore.
For the bigger hockey countries, these competitions only start at the quarter-final stage. Switzerland provided an excellent example of this. It played a brilliant first series, but lost to Germany in the quarter-finals. The importance of the initial series is, as stated earlier, almost negligible.
In the case of the Finnish team, the old saying finally came true: all pipes break sometimes.
The Lions’ incredible winning streak, which began in the spring of 2019 at the World Cup in Slovakia, is looking for an equal.
First, a sensational championship that no one expected. Then, after the corona bans, the World Cup silver from the 2021 tournament, with the narrowest possible difference to the gold, i.e. a loss in extra time of the final.
The year 2022 was full of blue and white dominance. Olympic gold in Beijing and World Championship gold in Tampere. An incredible year.
Jalonen created a winning machine that could not be stopped before this spring.
The hockey-loving people of Finland have been rooting for the Lions’ victories for years. The group led by Jalonen has – deservedly – gathered an unimaginable amount of attention in the frost. And the Ice Hockey Association has collected a huge amount of money in two consecutive home games.
But at the same time, the golden glitter of the Lions has blinded the Ice Hockey Association for the worse. Almost everything else has been more or less left to chance.
There are so many complaints that you could write a book about them.
Let’s start with the World Cup.
Ticket prices are in the sky, beyond the reach of the wallet of an ordinary street person. The arena is full of corporate guests, the atmosphere in the games is mostly quiet. Fanikatsomo would have solved the situation, but the Jääkiekkoliitto didn’t seem to be interested in that.
Something really outrageous happened in the shadow of these games, which I already wrote about earlier. The ice hockey association’s actions in suspected cases of racism and their follow-up investigations give an image of arrogant, self-righteous tinkering, where, for example, the statements of the equality commissioner and settlement proposals can be rejected.
It’s painfully difficult to color black into white, but the Ice Hockey Federation can’t be blamed for a lack of effort.
Nor do the basic rights of children and young people seem to apply to the Ice Hockey Federation. This issue was discussed in the Urheiluhullut program. The junior club transfer rules created by the association are out of this world. They are from the Ice Hockey League’s own kingdom.
In recent years, sport has happily become a part of the rest of society, but hockey in Finland seems to be the last bastion where people live far from the normal rules of society.
In the 2020s, any company or association must be open and transparent in its decision-making. Our time also includes social responsibility, carrying it. When would this be understood at the office of the Ice Hockey Federation?
The most recent cases have shown that the Ice Hockey Federation lives in the past. At the same time, it has forgotten to worry about the future.
Women’s hockey has been completely forgotten. The former bronze medalist of the prestigious competitions has slipped outside the medal games, but no one cares. The female lions have been the center of numerous uproars, but the Ice Hockey Association has not found a leader who would get things on the right track.
It might be worth keeping in mind that women’s hockey has the most significant growth potential of this marginal sport.
The situation in the boys’ national teams is, to say the least, worrying. Firstly, of course, because there is no success, but even more so because the junior national teams have been put in the wrong hands. Pilots who have failed at the league level have mainly been hired as coaches.
Now all of the above comes to the fore when the golden curtain of the Lions has fallen away. The near future will significantly determine the direction of the entire sport in Finland.
If the Ice Hockey Association wants ice hockey to continue to be Finland’s most popular sport, it is time for big conclusions.
The Ice Hockey Federation must change at a rapid pace.
To be a more open, socially responsible actor, who keeps the rink available to the entire nation, takes the future of women’s and youth hockey seriously – and takes responsibility for correcting grievances.
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