Finland’s farewell to Superfinale
The biggest news about Finland's Superfinale 2018 was not about who won but that the tradition would be discontinued. The day after the event, the central board of the Finnish Floorball Federation announced that from now on, the Finnish Salibandyliiga title would be decided on a best-of-seven final series.
Chairman of the Finnish federation Risto Kauppinen said the country's floorball community obviously had not completely adopted the event. Also, a clear majority of Salibandyliiga clubs were for a final series not one Superfinale.
There had been vocal opposition of the formula from the beginning among the clubs. Attendance numbers were not very promising, either. The first Finnish Superfinale in 2016 sold 10,087 tickets followed by 9,512 in 2017 and 7,153 this year.
Petteri Nykkys goodbye
Inside the rink, the event was all Classic's triumph. The club had both its men's and women's teams playing the final at all three occasions. Especially their men's team led by Petteri Nykky took their first ever Finnish title in 2016 to be then followed by two more. Classic's women, though, secured the club a double celebration last year but were beaten in 2016 by NST and this year by SB-Pro.
In this year's event Classic were clearly the only favorites to win as they entered the final with no less than 32 straight victorious Salibandyliiga games under their belt. yet, in the first period, they were ambushed by Happee who took a surprising 2-0 lead after goals by Paul Kotilainen and Joel Lahti. In the second period, thought, things too a turn to normal as Eemeli Salin scored twice to bring Classic level and Lassi Vänttinen and Sami Johansson gave them a two-goal lead. In the final period, Classic completely controlled the game to then put two more balls in the empty net in the end.
It was also a triumphant goodbye by Petteri Nykky who is to leave Classic to become Finland's full-time national team head coach. A bitter night for Happee's Peter Kotilainen who had got flying in the play-offs after a mediocre regular season but had to leave the final in the first period with a painful-looking muscle injury.
New name: Jenni Torkki
Women's Superfinale 2018 got clearly more exciting than men's as things took a surprising turn against Classic. After a goalless first period, Ella Alanko scored twice for Classic sending two almost identical screamers from the distance into the right top corner. That was it, everyone but SB-Pro and their fans thought. That was when a new name stepped in. Forward Jenni Torkki with her 18 years of age got the ball after a successful forechecking and beat Anna-Maria Linnoinen with a quick wrist shot to the top of the net. Two minutes later, she did the exactly same again, making it 2-2.
Nice for them to have their moment before Classic would decide the game, people thought, but they couldn't, stopped by SB-Pro goalie Tiltu Siltanen. With just four minutes left in the game, Classic got a two-minute penalty and on the power-play Denisa Ratajova scored for SB-Pro. Her goal at 57.10 turned out to be the winner.