Ilves has appointed Antti Pennanen as the new head coach. After signing a contract that runs until spring 2025 Pennanen replaces Jouko Myrrä in the role and starts immediately. He leads a coaching staff that includes assistant coaches Raimo Helminen, Pasi Saarinen and Jarkko Näppilä, goaltending coach Markus Korhonen and video coach Otto Kunnari. In addition to Myrrä, assistant coach Marko Ojanen also leaves the coaching staff.
The new head coach of Ilves, Antti Pennanen, has worked for the last the last two seasons as head coach of the Finnish under-20 national team. Under the guidance of 43-year-old Pennanen, the U20 team won silver at the IIHF World Junior Championship this year and bronze last year. Pennanen received the coach of the year award after leading HPK to the Finnish championship in the 2018–2019 season.
Pennanen’s coaching career started in the HPK junior teams. His first coaching roles at the Liiga level were at HIFK and KalPa, who he coached in 2011–2013 before moving on and taking the head coach role at Jukurit Mikkeli, who played in the Mestis, the second highest tier of ice hockey in Finland.
Pennanen won silver in his first season at Jukurit and then led the team to back-to-back championships. The highlight of his head coach term at HPK in 2016–2020 was the championship in the 2018–2019 season.
Finland’s under-20 and men’s national teams have also been a major part of Pennanen’s journey. He was an assistant coach for the U20 national team when Finland won the U20 world championship in 2016 and had the same role in the men’s world championship gold medal team in 2019. He continued in the men’s national team coaching staff the next season before taking the head coach role in the Finnish U20 national team for the last two seasons. Finland won bronze at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship and silver at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Ilves CEO Risto Jalo thanks Jouko Myrrä and Marko Ojanen for the work they did for Ilves and welcomes Antti Pennanen to the club.
– The coaching contracts in the Finnish league are signed very early before the next season. After we had signed a contract with Antti Pennanen for the 2023–2025 seasons we agreed that it would serve the club’s interests in the best way if the change was made already at this point. As Pennanen was available we thought that the best option for the club is to start our cooperation immediately, says Jalo.
– We want to thank Jouko Myrrä and Marko Ojanen for the work they did for Ilves. Our organisation and teams took major steps forward during their time here. At the same time we are very happy that we were able sign a long contract with Antti Pennanen. We was a sough-after name in the coach markets and we are really happy that he chose Ilves.