The Liiga is the top professional ice hockey league in Finland and has been around since 1975. It was created to replace the SM-sarja, which was an amateur league at the time. it also known as the Finnish Elite League in English or FM-ligan in Swedish.
It is considered to be one of the top hockey leagues in Europe, behind the KHL and SHL. The league consists of 15 teams, with each team playing a total of 60 games during the regular season. The top six teams then move on to the playoffs, where they compete for the championship title.
What is Finnish Liiga?
If you are a fan of ice hockey, you may have heard of the Finnish Liiga. The Liiga is the top professional ice hockey league in Finland. It was created in 1975 to replace the SM-sarja, which was fundamentally an amateur league. The league is run by the independent Jääkiekkon SM-liiga Oy.
The Liiga is a closed league, which means that there is no promotion or relegation. Currently, the league consists of 15 teams, and each team plays 60 regular-season games. At the end of the regular season, the top six teams qualify directly for the quarterfinals, while the teams ranked 7-10 play a best-of-three series to determine the remaining two quarterfinalists.
The Liiga is one of the founding leagues of the Champions Hockey League and currently allocated five spots based on success in previous editions. The league is also a member of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) and follows its rules and regulations.
The Finnish Liiga is a highly competitive league, and the level of play is considered to be very high. Many players from the league have gone on to play in the National Hockey League (NHL) and other top leagues around the world.
The Liiga is also known for its passionate fanbase, with many teams having loyal supporters who attend games regularly. The league has a strong tradition of producing talented players and has contributed significantly to the success of the Finnish national team in international competitions.
Teams in Liiga
The Liiga is the top professional ice hockey league in Finland and consists of 15 teams. Each team plays 60 regular-season games, and the top six teams advance to the playoffs.
Here are the teams that currently compete in the Liiga:
- Tappara Tampere
- JYP Jyväskylä
- Kärpät Oulu
- HIFK Helsinki
- Ilves Tampere
- Lukko Rauma
- Pelicans Lahti
- Ässät Pori
- TPS Turku
- KalPa Kuopio
- HPK Hämeenlinna
- SaiPa Lappeenranta
- KooKoo Kouvola
- Jukurit Mikkeli
- Jokerit Helsinki (joined the Liiga in 2014)
Tappara Tampere is one of the most successful teams in the Liiga, having won the championship nine times. JYP Jyväskylä and Kärpät Oulu are also successful teams, having won the championship three times each.
HIFK Helsinki, Ilves Tampere, and Lukko Rauma are also well-known teams in the Liiga. HIFK Helsinki has won the championship seven times, while Ilves Tampere has won it twice. Lukko Rauma has never won the championship but has been a competitive team in recent years.
Other teams in the Liiga include Pelicans Lahti, Ässät Pori, TPS Turku, KalPa Kuopio, HPK Hämeenlinna, SaiPa Lappeenranta, KooKoo Kouvola, and Jukurit Mikkeli.
Jokerit Helsinki is a team that joined the Liiga in 2014 after playing in the KHL for several years. The team has a strong following and has been competitive in the Liiga since joining.
Overall, the Liiga features a diverse group of teams with different levels of success and fan bases.
Structure of the Season
The Liiga season runs from September to April, consisting of a regular season, playoffs, and a finals series. The regular season is a round-robin format, with each team playing 60 games against the other teams in the league. The top six teams at the end of the regular season advance directly to the quarter-finals, while teams between 7th and 10th positions play a wild card round for the final two spots.
The playoffs consist of four rounds: quarter-finals, semi-finals, finals, and the championship series. The quarter-finals and semi-finals are played as best-of-seven, while the finals and championship series are played as best-of-five.
The championship series winner is awarded the Kanada-malja (Canada Bowl) trophy. In addition to the trophy, the winning team also receives a placement bonus. The runner-up team also receives a smaller bonus.
There is no relegation in the Liiga, as it is a closed league. However, the winner of the Mestis (second-tier league) is promoted to the Liiga for the following season.
Famous Trophies and Awards
The Finnish Liiga offers several significant trophies and awards to the players and teams that excel in the league. Here are some of the most famous trophies and awards in the Finnish Liiga:
- Kanada-malja: It is the most prestigious trophy in the Finnish Liiga, awarded to the team that wins the Finnish Championship. The trophy was first awarded in 1953 and is named after the Canadian ambassador to Finland, who donated the trophy. The trophy is made of silver and is in the shape of a bowl.
- Suomen Mestaruus: It is the Finnish name for the Kanada-malja trophy and translates to “Finnish Championship.”
- Harry Lindbladin Muistopalkinto: It is an award given to the team that finishes the regular season with the most points. The award is named after Harry Lindblad, who was a former player and coach in the Finnish Liiga.
- MVP: The Most Valuable Player award is given to the player who is deemed to have contributed the most to their team’s success throughout the season.
- Best Goaltender: The award for the Best Goaltender is given to the player who has shown the best performance in the position throughout the season.
- Top Scorer: The award for the Top Scorer is given to the player who scores the most goals or has the most points throughout the season.
These trophies and awards are highly coveted by the players and teams in the Finnish Liiga. Winning any of these awards is a significant achievement and a testament to the player’s or team’s skill and dedication.
The Finnish Liiga is the top professional ice hockey league in Finland. It was created in 1975 to replace the SM-sarja, an amateur league. The SM-sarja was established in 1928 as Finland’s first national men’s ice hockey league, with Viipurin Reipas being the inaugural champions.
The league had its disadvantages, which were perceived as impeding Finland’s rise to the highest ice hockey ranks. The SM-liiga was constituted in 1975 to concentrate the development of top-level Finnish ice hockey and pave the way towards professionalism.
The Liiga has undergone several changes since its inception. The championship’s present format did not take into effect until the league was originally formed for the 1975-76 season under the name of SM-liiga (preceded by SM-sarja).
In 2013, the league was rebranded as Liiga. The league has 15 teams, with each team playing 60 regular-season games. The top six teams advance directly to the playoffs, while the remaining teams play a wild card round to determine the final two playoff spots.
The Liiga has had a significant impact on Finnish ice hockey, with many of its players going on to play in the NHL and other top European leagues. The league has also been successful in international competitions, with Finnish teams winning the Champions Hockey League in 2015 and 2019.
The league has also participated in the European Trophy, an annual ice hockey tournament featuring teams from several European countries.
The Liiga is the top hockey league in Finland, but it is not the only one. Finland has several other ice hockey leagues, including the Suomi-sarja, II-divisioona, and III-divisioona. The Espoo Blues, one of the most successful teams in the Liiga, was relegated to the Suomi-sarja in 2016 due to financial difficulties. However, the team has since folded, and its players have moved on to other teams.
Liiga in International Perspective
The Liiga, formerly known as SM-liiga, is the top professional ice hockey league in Finland. While it may not be as well-known as some of the other top leagues in North America, the Liiga is highly respected in international ice hockey circles.
In terms of international competition, the Liiga is an important source of talent for the Finnish national team. Many of the top players in the league represent Finland in international tournaments such as the World Championship. Additionally, the Liiga is one of the founding leagues of the Champions Hockey League, which is a top-level European club competition.
While the Liiga is not as financially lucrative as some of the top North American professional sports leagues, it still attracts top talent from around the world. Many players from North America and other countries choose to play in the Liiga to develop their skills and gain experience playing in a highly competitive league.
The Liiga also has connections to other top hockey leagues around the world. For example, the league has a working agreement with the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) in Russia, which allows for player transfers between the two leagues.
Overall, while the Liiga may not have the same level of global recognition as some of the top North American leagues, it is a highly competitive and respected league in international ice hockey circles.
Statistics and Records
The Finnish Liiga is a top professional ice hockey league in Finland, featuring some of the best teams and players in the country. With a history spanning several decades, the Liiga has amassed an impressive collection of statistics and records highlighting the league’s success and competitiveness.
One of the most notable statistics in the Liiga is the number of goals scored by teams and players. Over the years, many players have made their mark on the league by scoring a significant number of goals, with some even breaking records. For example, in the 2022-2023 season, the top goal scorer was Jere Innala from HIFK, who scored 34 goals in 60 games.
Penalties are another important aspect of the Liiga, as they can significantly impact the outcome of a game. Teams that are more disciplined and commit fewer penalties tend to have a better chance of winning. In the 2022-2023 season, the team with the fewest penalties was Tappara, with only 442 penalty minutes in 60 games.
Team statistics are also closely monitored in the Liiga, as they can provide valuable insights into a team’s performance. Some of the most important team statistics include wins, losses, and points. In the 2022-2023 season, the team with the most wins was Kärpät, with 36 wins in 60 games. The team with the most points was Tappara, with 95 points in 60 games.
Standings are another crucial aspect of the Liiga, as they determine which teams qualify for the playoffs and ultimately have a chance to win the championship. The standings are determined by a points system, with teams earning two points for a win, one point for an overtime loss, and zero points for a regulation loss. In the 2022-2023 season, the top four teams in the standings were Tappara, Kärpät, HIFK, and Lukko.
Finally, the Liiga also participates in the Champions Hockey League (CHL) season, which is a European-wide competition featuring some of the best teams from various leagues. The Liiga has had some success in the CHL, with Tappara winning the championship in the 2016-2017 season.
Key Personalities and Roles
In the Finnish Liiga, there are several key personalities and roles that play a significant part in the success of a team. These include the captain and head coach.
The captain is responsible for leading the team both on and off the ice. They are the liaison between the players and the coaching staff and are often the voice of the team in media interviews. The captain is typically a player who has earned the respect of their teammates through their skill, work ethic, and leadership qualities.
The head coach is responsible for developing and implementing the team’s strategies and tactics. They are in charge of deciding which players will start each game, making adjustments during the game, and managing the team’s overall performance. The head coach is also responsible for developing the team’s culture and creating a positive and productive environment for the players.
In addition to the captain and head coach, there are several other key roles within a team, including assistant coaches, trainers, and equipment managers. These individuals work behind the scenes to ensure that the team is well-prepared and equipped to perform at their best.
Venues and Arenas
The Finnish Liiga is played in various venues and arenas across Finland. The most popular and well-known arena is the Tampere Ice Stadium, also known as Hakametsä, which has a capacity of over 7,000 spectators. It is the third largest ice hall in the Finnish ice hockey league and is located in the district of Hakametsä in Tampere.
Apart from Hakametsä, there are several other arenas that host Liiga games regularly. The brand-new Tampere Deck Arena, which has a capacity of over 15,000 spectators, is set to co-host the 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Tampere and Helsinki. It hosted its first hockey game in 2022 and is expected to become a popular venue for Liiga games.
Other arenas that regularly host Liiga games include the Helsinki Ice Hall, which has a capacity of over 8,000 spectators, and the Oulun Energia Areena in Oulu, which has a capacity of over 6,000 spectators.
Here is a table of some of the most popular arenas in the Finnish Liiga:
|Tampere Ice Stadium||7,300|
|Tampere Deck Arena||15,000|
|Helsinki Ice Hall||8,200|
|Oulun Energia Areena||6,614|
|Turku Gatorade Center||11,820|
Overall, the Finnish Liiga is played in some of the most modern and well-equipped arenas in Europe, making it a popular destination for ice hockey fans from around the world.
The Finnish Ice Hockey Association (FIHA) is the governing body for ice hockey in Finland. It was founded in 1927 and joined the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) in 1928. The FIHA is responsible for organizing and managing all levels of ice hockey in Finland, from grassroots to professional leagues.
The FIHA oversees the operation of the Liiga, the top professional ice hockey league in Finland. The Liiga was created in 1975 to replace the SM-sarja, which was an amateur league. The FIHA sets rules and regulations for the Liiga and ensures that all teams comply with them.
In addition to managing the Liiga, the FIHA is also responsible for developing and promoting ice hockey in Finland. The association provides financial support for minor and junior ice hockey players from low-income families.
This system helps to ensure that talented young players have access to the resources they need to develop their skills and reach their full potential.
The FIHA also works closely with other organizations to promote ice hockey in Finland. For example, it collaborates with the Finnish Olympic Committee to select and train the national ice hockey team for international competitions such as the Winter Olympics and the IIHF World Championships.
The Women’s Liiga, also known as Naisten Liiga, is Finland’s premier league for women’s ice hockey. The Finnish Ice Hockey Association founded the league in 1982 as the Naisten SM-sarja, which means Women’s Finnish Championship series. The league was renamed as the Naisten Liiga in 2017.
The Women’s Liiga consists of ten teams, and each team plays a total of 36 games during the regular season. The top six teams advance to the playoffs, where they compete for the championship title.
The Women’s Liiga is highly competitive, and the level of play is very high. The league attracts some of the best female ice hockey players from around the world, including Canada, the United States, and Russia.
The Women’s Liiga has produced many talented players who have gone on to represent their countries in international competitions, including the Olympics and the World Championships. Some of the notable players who have played in the Women’s Liiga include Noora Räty, Venla Hovi, and Michelle Karvinen.
Popularity and Influence of Liiga
The Finnish Liiga is the top professional ice hockey league in Finland and is widely popular among Finnish ice hockey fans. The league was created in 1975 to replace the amateur SM-sarja league and has since grown to become an important part of Finnish ice hockey culture.
One of the reasons for Liiga’s popularity is its influence on the Finnish national ice hockey team, known as Leijonat. Many of the top players in the Finnish national team have played in the Liiga, and the league serves as a platform for developing young talent. This has helped Finland become one of the top ice hockey nations in the world.
Despite being a professional league, Liiga also has an amateur aspect to it. The league has a third-tier division called III-divisioona, which serves as a developmental league for young players and smaller clubs. This allows for a wider range of players and teams to participate in the Finnish ice hockey system and helps maintain the sport’s popularity nationwide.
Liiga’s influence can also be seen in the league’s attendance numbers. The league consistently draws large crowds, with an average of over 5,000 fans per game during the 2021-22 season. This is a testament to the league’s popularity and the passion of Finnish ice hockey fans.
Overall, Liiga has become an integral part of Finnish ice hockey culture and has helped to shape the sport in Finland. Its popularity and influence are a testament to the league’s success in developing top-level talent and providing a platform for the sport to thrive.