Monday, July 2, 2012
July by the Numbers travels to Finland for sweater #2.
Founded in 1931, Ilves Tampere won three consecutive Finnish championships in 1936, 1937 and 1938.
Ilves, Finnish for "Lynx", next enjoyed a period of success beginning in the period just after World War II, winning a trio of titles in 1945, 1946 and 1947, finishing as silver medalists in 1948 and 1949 before reclaiming gold in 1950, 1951 and 1952. The club fell fast, being relegated to the second division for the only time in their history in 1954, but quickly returned after just one season to the top level, where they have remained ever since.
Ilves after winning the Kanada-malja (Canada Cup) as league champions in 1952
More championships followed in 1957, 1958, 1960 and 1962, with a pair of bronze medals in 1963 and 1964. The team moved into their current home, the Hakametsä Arena in 1965 and won their 14th championship in 1966.
Ilves also captured the final Finnish Cup in 1971 and followed that with the league championship in 1972. A dry spell followed, which was relieved when their rival club, Koovee, who had been relegated to the third division, entered into an agreement with Tampere, which saw their best players join Ilves, including Risto Jalo.
The infusion of talent led to Ilves winning their 16th and most recent championship in 1985. Following their success, four players, Jalo, Raimo Helminen, Mikko Mäkelä and Ville Siren all left to play in the NHL. Since then, highlights have included a bronze medal in 1989, silvers in 1990 and 1998 and another bronze most recently in 2001.
Makela, Helminen, Raimo Summanen and Siren
In their now 80 year history, the club has won more championships, 16, than any other club and has retired seven numbers, #2 for Jarmo Wasama, #7 for Aarne Honkavaara, #13 for Jalo, #14 for Lasse Oksanen, Jorma Peltonen's #16, the #30 of Jukka Tammi and Helminen's #41.
Ilves retired number and championship banners
Today's featured jersey is a 1961-62 Ilves Tampere Jarmo Wasama jersey. This sweater features the old Ilves logo, which was redesigned in 1963 and remains in use today.
Wasama, a defenseman, was born in 1943 and began playing for Ilves in 1960-61. He would play six seasons for the club, winning a championship in 1962 and named to the league's All-Star team five consecutive times from 1962 to 1966 and was named the Finnish Player of the Year in 1965.
He also skated for Finland in the 1962, 1963 and 1965 World Championships as well as the 1964 Olympics. In February of 1966, Wasama was killed when his car struck a stalled tractor in foggy weather on his way home from practice. Wasama was just 22 years old. His #2 was immediately retired by the team, who went on to win the championship at the end of the season.
He was inducted into the Finnish Hockey Hall of Fame in 1985, and honor called "Jääkiekkoleijona", which translates to "Ice Hockey Lion".
Wasama's plaque in the Finnish Hockey Hall of Fame
Additionally, the SM-liiga's Rookie of the Year trophy is named the Jarmo Wasama Memorial Trophy in his honor.