The Naisten SM-Sarja is being re-branded as the Naisten Liiga, the Finnish Ice Hockey Association announced at a press conference in Helsinki on Tuesday.
"We want to develop Finnish women's hockey as competitive and attractive," said Finnish Ice Hockey Federation board member Emma Terho. She cited the 80 foreign players who played in Sweden's SDHL league last year, saying that they want to make Finland a "viable option" for elite international players in the future.
At the press conference Terho acknowledged that money remains an issue for women's sports development, but mentioned that they are working with outside consulting sources to increase interest from "partners as well as the general public" in order to drum up revenue and sponsorship opportunities.
Talks began at the beginning of the 2016-2017 season, with club representatives meeting to discuss issues like improving playing conditions and creating a "functional and motivating" path for the women's top divisions.
The Naisten SM-Sarja season ended on Saturday when Oulun Kärpät defeated Espoo United to win the Aurora Borealis Cup, Kärpät’s first championship victory since 2012. The series also marked star defenseman Mira Jalosuo’s return to Kärpät after a seven-year absence.
The Naisten Liiga will kick off its inaugural season in September in Tampere, Finland, with events featuring all league teams.