Oulu Kärpät retain Finnish ice hockey title after 2-0 win in Helsinki
There were scenes of wild jubilation among the travelling Oulu supporters in Helsinki on Sunday night, as the visiting team Oulu Kärpät retained their Finnish ice hockey title by winning the fourth match of the best-of-five final against Helsinki Jokerit in a packed Hartwall Arena. Kärpät blanked Jokerit by 2-0 and took a decisive 3-1 lead in the series of matches.
The goals on Sunday came from Peter Tenkrat, who overturned a Jokerit powerplay to score in the first period, and from Mika Pyörälä after four minutes of the final period.
However, on Sunday it was the Kärpät defence that really shone, with players like Janne Niinimaa and Josef Boumedienne - both NHL exiles because of the lock-out in North America - deflecting everything that Jokerit could throw at them. And when the home team did find a way through, there was the immovable obstacle of goaltender Niklas Bäckström in front of them. Bäckström, widely regarded as the best individual player in the Finnish League, made 20 saves in the match. It was the first time in any of this season's play-off matches that Jokerit have failed to score.
Kärpät have had a great time in the last three seasons. After clawing their way back to the top echelons in 2001, they were runners-up in 2003, they won last year, and now they get to take home the trophy once again.
Thousands turned out in Oulu to welcome the team home on Sunday night, and the streets were already thronged with people who had watched the match on television, either at home or in restaurants, and then went out to celebrate.
Oulun Kärpät, Finnish Champions
Finnish Ice Hockey League (in Finnish)