The Espoo Blues are once again Aurora Borealis Cup champions.
The winningest team in Finnish women’s hockey history claimed their historic 14th league championship March 21, completing the three-game sweep over Tampereen Ilves. The Blues outscored Ilves 15-5 over the best-of-five series.
The Blues overcame some last-minute controversy about Game Three’s location and finished off the series at home in style. With all lines firing, offensive-minded defenders like captain Minttu Tuominen joining the rush and scoring goals, and goaltender Jenna Silvonen in sparkling form, the team’s chemistry shone all the way to the top in front of a jubilant 611-spectator crowd.
”Our main theme for the season was patience,” Blues forward Annina Rajahuhta told The Ice Garden. “We didn’t start the season so well but our goal was to be ready when the big games started.”
She continued, “During the playoffs we had many players scoring goals so we didn’t have to rely on only one player or one lineup.”
One standout contributor? 19-year-old Ida Kuoppala. She joined the Blues for the playoffs and scored 13 points in six games, including a hat trick and an assist in Game One of the finals. She made herself right at home in the lineup, spending time on the top line with Rajahuhta and Emmi Rakkolainen during the Ilves series.
The Blues are arguably the finest dynastic team in professional women’s hockey. The team won a staggering seven titles in a row between 1999 and 2005, won bronze in 2006, then reclaimed the championship for three more years. They last won the Aurora Borealis Cup in 2015, in the Naisten Liiga’s previous incarantion as the Naisten SM-Sarja.
“The main thing that I remember from this season is that we had so much fun with each other,” said Rajahuhta. “We had a great team spirit and I think we could transfer that on the ice.”