Dear Ilves community,
the 2022–2023 Liiga regular season has reached the halfway point. As the Christmas festivities are right behind the corner, we are third in the standings and in a good position to compete for the top spots. Our team’s success has also produced success on an individual level which has been rewarded by national team call-ups as well.
In the spring we made our debut in the Champions Hockey League. The CHL games against Fribourg-Gottéron, Red Bull Salzburg and Stavanger Oilers were educational and great experiences even though we weren’t able to reach the playoffs phase yet. Our targets, including the CHL, are high and next time we will be even more ready to take the next steps.
In addition to our first wins in the CHL, some of the highlights of our international experiences was the support and presence of the Ilves community. Our average attendance was second highest in the group phase and it was fantastic to see so many of our supporters in Central Europe as well. The atmosphere of our game in Salzburg, especially, felt like it was actually a home game.
The same yellow and green carnival has continued in the Finnish Liiga and at Nokia Arena. We are extremely grateful for our average attendance 7890 which beats the next best teams by over a thousand spectators. The average attendance is above the capacity of our previous home arena, Hakametsä ice stadium, had and it proves that people enjoy our events and want to be part of them again and again. The Ilves community carries the colours of our club with pride which is also evident in the streets of Tampere.
A wonderful indication of our sense of community has also been the support given to our junior player Nemo Pajula after his serious injury. In order to support his rehabilitation Ilves ry and Ilves-Hockey Oy organised a fundraising and a support game and got a great response – also from other clubs and their supporters. The first two smaller-sized fundraising permits allowed maximum 10 000 euros to be collected and the limits were reached quickly. The club has already applied a permit for a more permanent fundraising.
The home game that preceded the Christmas break was Nemo’s support game that he attended. With the help from his teammates he also dropped the ceremonial opening puck. Nemo’s rehabilition has started well and his positivity and fortitude are an example to all of us. A warm thank you to all of you who have helped in one way or another.
Our team will be back in action against TPS already on Boxing Day, and our next home game is a top battle against Pelicans on Tuesday 27 December. Before these meetings, however, it’s time to take a little break and enjoy the time together with our loved ones.
On behalf of the Ilves organisation, wishing you all Merry Christmas and a happy New Year
Chief Executive Officer