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Legends in the making – Ilves beats HIFK 3–2 in second to last home game

Siru Takala

I would say today’s theme was “legends”. Ilves honored legendary players and coaches who’ve had long and successful careers with Ilves and with the Finnish national team. We got to reminisce about the old times: Ilves’ origins in the 1930s, years they’ve won the Finnish championship in, and former players’ achievements. The audience seemed to enjoy the ceremony because the honorees received a standing ovation at the end.

The current Ilves roster then begun the match against HIFK from Helsinki. The sold-out arena witnessed a memorable thriller of a game at Hakametsä. Ilves took the lead early, but HIFK discouraged the home crowd with two quick back-to-back goals at the end of the first period. Although the mood was somber in the stands, the teams spent an intense second period battling it out. Ilves had several amazing chances on breakaways but couldn’t capitalize.

However, Ilves did not throw in the towel and yet again clawed their way back in the game in the third. Ville Meskanen tied the game and then Arttu Ruotsalainen scored the game-winning 3–2 goal with only 1:12 left. The goals electrified the arena and caused two of the biggest and loudest celebrations I have ever been a part of at Hakametsä. The support for Ilves was astonishing throughout the game as fans brought their A game. They protested loudly at penalty calls, chanted, and clapped for the home team.

Ilves has a long history, the recent chapters of which haven’t been as successful as the past ones. The last time Ilves won a championship was in 1985. Among the team’s players were hockey legends who were honored and inducted into the Ilves Hockey Legends Hall of Fame today.

Now, we are witnessing new Ilves legends in the making. This season has already delivered unforgettable moments and new achievements for these players. With the playoffs approaching, I can’t wait to see what kind of a story they will write in this next chapter of Ilves’ history.

With the three points secured from tonight’s game, Ilves increased the lead over KooKoo in the standings. Ilves is close to securing the home-ice advantage for the playoffs. Next up is a home game against Ässät of Pori on Tuesday, March 10

Ilves huudatti täpötäyttä Hakametsää kaatamalla aatelointi-illassa HIFK:n
Lätkäehtoo: Ilves-Ässät 10.3.2020