After two years of independence, top-level women’s hockey in Espoo once again has a parent organization. This year’s Aurora Borealis Cup champions, the Espoo Blues, will continue as Kiekko-Espoo Naiset.
The teams’ history has been linked since day one: the Blues were founded as Kiekko-Espoo in 1984 and played under that name for 14 seasons. The Blues debuted in 1998 and became Espoo United for a season in 2016 following some financial reshuffling.
The Espoo Blues returned to the Naisten Liiga in 2017 as an independent entity with their own association following the sudden dissolution of Espoo United. One of the successful teams in women’s hockey history, the Blues have won an astounding 14 titles in their tenure and produced a seven-year dynastic streak from 1999 to 2005.
Kiekko-Espoo won four bronze medals in the Naisten Liiga’s previous incarnation SM-Sarja.
According to Blues chairman Emma Terho, Blues head coach Sami Haapanen will continue on as head coach of Kiekko-Espoo while the three assistant coaches will move on. A decent chunk of last year’s roster is set to return, including Naisleijonat silver medalists Nelli Laitinen, Minttu Tuominen, Ella Viitasuo and Annina Rajahuhta. Goaltender Jenna Silvonen looks to try her luck in North America, but there’s no word yet on where she’ll play.
When asked by The Ice Garden about how the new arrangement would impact the current pay-to-play structure, Terho responded,
“The goal is to find enough sponsors & supporters so that the players would not need to pay, and the new arrangement is believed to strengthen the possibility. But it all will still depend on the amount of sponsors and people that come to watch or buy a season ticket.”
Terho is optimistic about the future and already has a vision: “In the future, there will be a clear path under the same umbrella for girls to play, starting from skating school all the way to the top.”
Interested in a Kiekko-Espoo season ticket? They’re available for purchase here.