I've been searching for footage of SM Liiga games somewhere on the internet, as that would give a much better picture of the sport than any writing. It's more fun, too. In Veikkausliiga, you can watch the highlights of every single game. Iltalehti pay for the privilege, of course, Veikkausliiga gives nothing away free of charge. But it ensures people can watch the sport even if they miss the nightly sports news.
Iltalehti do videos for ice hockey too, but they consist mainly of interviews in Finnish. And if you could speak Finnish you wouldn't need me to point you in that direction, would you?
The closest thing you can get, as far as I can see (and of course, if I'm wrong please correct me) is MTV3's sports news. You can watch it on the internet by following these instructions:
1. Go to their website.
2. Click on 'MTV3 Anytime NettiTV'.
3. This should open a new window. Within this window, click on 'Urheilu' at the top.
4. Now look for the highlights in the right hand column. They divide their sport bulletins into segments, so a lot of the links are interviews, but within that you should be able to see some goals.
SM-Liiga's website has had some problems of it's own recently, with Mr Pasi Mennander, an SM Liiga media official, interviewed about them in today's Helsingin Sanomat. Given that you now need subscription television to watch Finnish hockey, you'd think they might be a bit more professional about alternative sources of publicity. Mennander said it was working well apart from the last 5 minutes of the games when the livescore feature stopped working because of the level of traffic.
Apparently 'the technical people are on top of the situation', and this situation is normal at the start of the season when they configure their servers. It seems a bit strange, as it would probably be best to start off with too much capacity and then calibrate things further, but I suppose SM liiga knows it doesn't need to try too hard.
SM Liiga is a bit of a cosy club, without relegation unless the club that finishes first in Mestis meets certain standards. I don't know what these are, but I imagine they are unlikely to be met anytime soon. This is 'to promote financial stability' and protect non-achieving clubs. I don't know much about hockey, but a top flight without relegation will quickly become stale.
Anyway, I like the lower divisions. Games at Hakametsä remind me of the Sheffield Steelers - good fun and everything, but not a proper sport. Very artificial, more about the eating and drinking than the hockey. Maybe I'm holding them to a higher standard than I should, but I have been introduced to European hockey via Swiss supporter culture, which is a good deal more animated. Things like this appeal to my my sense of occasion.
So I like my flares and tifos, and I was surprised to find the Tampere derby a bit flat, without so much atmosphere. Nothing like a TamU-TPS game, for instance. Hockey fans here could do with learning from the Swiss, in my quite naive opinion.
This picture is of Ambri supporters making their protest against Israel's invasion of Lebanon last year, and supporting their team against Lugano in last year's playoffs (thanks to Yuri for providing the link). I'm told Finnish supporter culture can be good at hockey, and I hope to see some of that. I'm not encouraged by Yves's stories of being told to sit down at HIFK (he's an excitable lad), but we'll see. If any readers can suggest where to go for this kind of stuff (besides Jokerit) I'd gladly go along.
For the time being I will nail my colours to the mast of these boys, who are my local team. At least until I leave these western suburbs behind and move closer to the centre, but I think I can develop an affinity with them in the meantime.