Finland Youth Hockey Season Comes To A Close With Two-Game Sweep
After seven months of intense action across the country, Finland youth hockey has finally crowned its U16 national champion. Jokerit — the No. 1 seed in the playoffs — swept HIFK in a best-of-3 series to take the title on Saturday afternoon. A 4-3 win in Game 2 clinched the series victory for Jokerit, earning the championship for the Helsinki-based program.
In Game 1, Jokerit put HIFK goaltender Otto Nuto to the test in the form of 49 shots on goal. A hat trick from forward Renny Tainio fueled the surge of offense, while Atte Vikla, Juho Keinänen, Natan Teshome and Arttu Määttä piled on in a 7-1 win.
HIFK pushed back in Game 2 though, with the season on the line. In the first period, they threw 15 shots on goal, and Matias Torkki was able to give HIFK an early lead just 6:30 into the game. Jokerit quickly responded to tie it up just 18 seconds later, but another first-period goal by Edvard Grönholm would regain the lead for HIFK.
Joonas Paqvalin and Santeri Veiksola would combine to score the next three goals — Paqvalin with one on the power play — to take the lead for Jokerit for good. A late goal, timeout and pulled goalie for more than a minute would not be enough for HIFK to tie it up, and Jokerit would hang onto the 4-3 win.
Similar to neighboring country Sweden, Finland only awards a champion of youth hockey at the U16 age group. This year, Jokerit’s 2006-born team proved to be the best in the country by going undefeated in the playoffs. They swept No. 10 TPS 2-0 in the quarterfinals, then swept No. 8 Lukko 2-0 in the semifinals and finished with a 2-0 sweep of No. 5 HIFK this weekend.
It is the final season of youth hockey for these players, as next season, the 2006 age group will embark on its first in the SM-sarja junior leagues. Want more coverage of Finland youth hockey and other news from around the world? Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for the latest updates in the sport.
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