Finally there! Tappara wins Finnish championship

Finally there! Tappara wins Finnish championship

Markus Nisius26 Apr 2016Markus Nisius»
 

Neither two shutouts nor bad memories could stop Tampere this season. After dramatic defeats in the two previous years Tappara finally wins its 16th Finnish title against HIFK.

 
 
 
 

Tappara had already beaten their big shadow of the past in the Semi-Finals when they eliminated Kärpät Oulu, the team that had stopped them literally in the last second from winning the gold in the last two seasons. But in the Finals they were facing Helsinki IFK. HIFK did not only win the regular season this year for good reasons, they have also built a core of talent that was maybe the most constant over the last 2 years and has one of the deepest rosters in Liiga.

That's why it did not really surprise when HIFK started strong in game 1. Ville Husso got his first shutout in the Finals with 24 saves, while Joonas Rask, Jasse Ikonen, Yohann Auvitu and Tomi Tuomisto provided 4 goals from 3 different lines.

Tappara's defense found a way to reduce the HIFK offense to only one goal in game 2. That way had a name and it was Tomi Karhunen, who stunned the team from the capital with an impressive 34 saves. Up front Kristian Kuusela and Juhani Jasu secured a 2-1 win to even out the series.

Back in Helsinki it was Husso's day again. 25 saves for a second shutout and 6 goals from his offense for the 2-1 lead in the series. At this point the future looked grim for Tappara and another Final defeat was looming. But the tides kept turning.

Game 4 had another shutout to offer and again for the home team. Karhunen had 27 saves at Hakametsä and shared the „man of the match“ honors with youngstar Patrick Laine, who opened scoring in the first period and had his hands in both of the other two Tappara goals for a 3-0 win.

In Helsinki fans expected nothing else than another shutout in game 5 and Lauri Taipalus seemed to keep the promise when he got HIFK ahead after 11 minutes with a blast from the blue line. Both goalies kept showing massive saves until Aleksi Elorinne could finally break the road game spell late in the second period for Tappara with a quick shot off the face-off. With 5 minutes left on the clock Jere Karjalainen shocked 8200 HIFK fans at the Helsinki Icehall, when a HIFK attack was intercepted and the rebound landed right on his stick free in the opponent's zone. He kept his cool and scored the game winner for Tappara.

Today HIFK wanted to fight back. They even took another early lead through Juuso Puustinen scoring in an open net thanks to a splendid cross ice pass by Joonas Rask after 3:21 minutes, but that lead had turned against them 8 minutes later after Patrick Laine and Henrik Haapala had scored twice for Tampere. Laine's goal was practically a copy of Puustinen's one on the other side. Haapala did it a bit less fancy and just deflected a puck past Husso coming from the blue line.

There were no more goals in the rest of the game, but still a bit of drama with the clock ticking down as HIFK tried everything to score in the last seconds and even forced a video review after the time had expired, but the score stood.

Tappara wins the Finnish championship for the 16th time and for the first time since 2003.


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