25th Turku Junior Icehockey Tournament
“EVERY TOURNAMENT IS REASON FOR A CELEBRATION”
Text: Mikko Vaahtola and Joonas Reijonen
Throughout the years some familiar names have played in the Turku Junior Ice Hockey Tournament. Teemu Selänne, Saku Koivu, Marko Ojanen, Jere Lehtinen, Tomi Kallio, Aki Berg, Marko and Miikka Kiprusoff, Jani Hurme and Petteri Nummelin just to mention a few of them.
Turku Junior Ice hockey Tournament is the biggest Ice Hockey tournament in Europe, and also one of the biggest world wide. The idea to arrange the tournament was conceived in the early 80´s in the darkness of the Impivaara icehockey arena’s sauna.
Turku Junior Ice Hockey Tournament has been arranged every year; starting from 1985. The early tournaments were organised by Juhani Wahlsten, Mikko Kirkkola, Rainer Grannas and Johan Hollsten. TPS has frozen Wahlsten’s number 8-jersey, and Grannas long career as a referee has been noted by the Finnish Hockey Museum.
The Tournament has been international since the very beginning. Sweden and Soviet Union participated already in the first tournament. Later on, the tournaments have seen teams from Norway, Czech, Germany, United States, Switzerland, Hungary, Poland, England, the Baltic countries, France and even Saudi-Arabia.
The tournament is an excellent place to test your skills
Junior teams come to the tournament to test their skills. Not just on a national level, but also in the international level.
Even in the C-junior matches the difference between individual skills and playing styles are easy to see. In Finland and Sweden the playing styles are similar, but in Russia the style it is different.
For teams who visit the Turku Junior Ice Hockey Tournament the every year progress in skills is obvious. When the years go by many of the juniors end up in the Finnish Elite League (SM-liiga) or even in the NHL.
Progress is the best feedback
This year 140 teams will participate in the tournament.
”The tournament is organised mainly on voluntary work. Not for money, but out of love for the sport”, says Tom Rajalin, chairman of Turun Nuorisokiekko. Turun Nuorisokiekko is the main organisation behind the tournament.
Setting up the Tournament is a long process. The planning for this year’s tournament started last July. The feedback from the teams has been mainly positive.
”The Best feedback is when a departing team fills out an registration form for next years tournament”, says Rajalin.
For many teams – from Finland and abroad – participating in the tournament is a yearly tradition.
Turku Junior Ice Hockey Tournament in figures.
Through out the years
– 6500 games have been played.
– 420 000 spectators has visited the tournament
– 28 000 goals have bee scored
– 1450 hours of penalty time
– 7200 teams
– 400 teams from 16 countries outside of Finland
– 39 000 players
Some figures are estimates because of the lack of reliable statistics.