Thousands gathered again in Senate Square to watch hockey final on big screen
Ice Hockey World Championships defeat followed by 15,000 people
The buzzer to signal the end of the Ice Hockey World Championships final was witnessed by 15,000 heart-broken Finns in Helsinki's Senate Square on Sunday evening. It was the second night in succession that the Square was packed, after Saturday's Eurovision Song Contest had drawn a similar crowd to watch the event on the giant screen.
The disappointment caused by Finland's 2-4 defeat to Canada manifested itself in colourful and unprintable expressions, gloomy faces, and here and there empty bottles being smashed to pieces against the pavement.
"Never mind. A good match", said Sirpa Venäläinen, dressed in a blue wig and the Finnish flag, shaking her head disapprovingly at the drunken fretting of some other onlookers.
The atmosphere in the Senate Square swung from one extreme to another during the game.
By the beginning of the match, the square had been filled to overflowing with people. The steps of the adjacent Lutheran Cathedral were populated to capacity an hour before the start of the game, and the square itself was so crowded that walking through it was practically impossible.
During the opening minutes of the game the atmosphere was high, with the audience straining their vocal chords every time Finland attacked. Soon, however, the oomph went out of the cheers as Canada scored two powerplay goals during the first period.
Canada's third strike mid-way through the second period then silenced the crowd totally, and some people started leaving the square.
In the third period the mood changed dramatically. While Finland's first goal was a much needed injection of hope, the second strike caused the crowd to go absolutely mental.
Cheers filled the square and the Cathedral steps turned into a blue and white sea of Finnish flags.
Some of the spectators had arrived from further out in Finland. A group of four men had travelled from the west coast city of Turku.
"We came because of the atmosphere. In Turku there isn't anything like this available", explained Matias Nurminen.
Sirpa Venäläinen also said she would start her working week in Turku on Monday. Though she had hoped for victory for Finland, she was not overly disappointed with Canada's triumph, either.
"Silver is also a good achievement. I wonder if there's going to be a public celebration", she pondered. Probably not. Finland is now among the elite ice hockey nations, and nobody gets very excited these days about coming second.
The Helsinki police prepared themselves for the hockey final by sending an extra 20 patrols to the Senate Square area.
For some drunken spectators, Finland's defeat was a bit too much to swallow. Some of the young men started taking out their frustration on the few Canadian fans in the area by pushing them around and by throwing bottles at them.
The security men, however, quickly calmed down the situation and no serious harm was caused to anyone.
Meanwhile, some other Finns congratulated the Canadian spectators fair and square for a well-deserved victory, their 24th in this competition. The Finns would simply have liked to make their total number of titles two instead of one.