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  3. Flying sticks and referees at the match against Vaasan Sport

Flying sticks and referees at the match against Vaasan Sport

Julia Schmieder

Less than ten minutes into the match against Vaasan Sport, Lassi Thomson blasted the first goal and sparked an ecstatic atmosphere in the Hakametsä stadium. At that moment I remembered a little girl who entered the stadium behind me, telling her mother: “This is going to be the best game I have ever seen.” No idea how many games she had seen in her life, but I was sure that she would at least see many goals today. Certainly, I wasn’t the only one believing that Vaasan Sport could now be an easy target for Ilves – but then the underdog told us otherwise.

After the first goal, the game continued at a high tempo and Ilves stayed in the lead; however, we did not get to see another goal during the first period. What we saw instead were flying hockey sticks and puzzled players with empty hands. Both Ilves and Sport had several goalscoring chances, but the defense always managed to deflect the puck and prevent every serious attack.

In the second period Sport visibly started to fight harder and took the lead for a short period of time. Once again it became clear that this team, despite being at the bottom of the table, did not intend to be easy prey. And finally, Sport even leveled the game out to a 1-1. It was then when Ilves started a new attack by pushing towards the opponent’s goal, every player speeding in the same direction.

All of us spectators were holding our breath, trying to follow the puck with our eyes, and suddenly we saw yet another stick flying in the opposite direction and one player dropping out of the attacking crowd. It seemed as if Sport’s secret tactic this night was to knock as many hockey sticks as possible of their opponents’ hands, and for now, it worked – for the rest of the second period we waited in vain for another goal.

The third period was then again fully dominated by the Ilves team and Sport had a hard time keeping up the pace. Not even the referees were safe! One referee got involved in a puck battle between one player from Ilves and one from Sport who unintentionally knocked him over. Next, a player form Sport got swept off his feet in a run for the goal and instead of getting back up, the guy just slid there on his belly across the ice.

The last artistic interlude this night was delivered by Suomi who somehow managed to do a cartwheel over the back of Sport’s goalkeeper. Even after seeing the repetition on the screens I was not able to figure out how this happened. Needless to say, the spectators in the stadium were well entertained during this game!

Finally, Joona Ikonen seized an opportunity and took Ilves to a 2-1 lead. From this point on, the game was almost decided and in a last desperate attempt, Vaasan Sport tried to attack Ilves’ goal with six players. Ilves quickly stole the puck away and with an empty and undefended goal, it was more than easy for Joona Ikonen to shoot the puck another time into the net and secure Ilves’ victory. With a final score of 3-1, we might not have seen as many goals as we hoped for, but we definitely had a lot of fun watching the game this night!

Ilves wins back-to-back games against Sport
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