The first medal

Timo Sutinen had his breakthrough season, and the games went well for Jokerit during the winter. After playing each team twice, last year’s fifth place team was now first with a three-point lead on HIFK. The league scoring system had been changed, however.

The first medal

When HIFK had won two consecutive titles in a row, the league had been played as a double round robin tournament, where each club meets all the other clubs twice. For the 1970-71 season, the final series of the top six regular season teams was added.

Being third in the initial series, Porin Ässät took both Helsinki-based teams by surprise and won the championship. Veli-Pekka Ketola was thus still in the wrong camp even though he changed teams from Ässät to Jokerit. Jokerit managed, however, to earn their first medal by getting silver before HIFK who had failed during the final series.

Besides Seppo Repo, Jokerit also lost Lauri Mononen during the summer. Both moved to Karhu-Kissat. The 1971-72 season was tough for Jokerit, Aimo Mäkinen and the hockey fans in Helsinki. Jokerit came fourth in the Series. The second medal in a row remained a dream, with HJK taking silver and HIFK winning the bronze medal again. This time the champions were Tampereen Ilves.

The fate of Karhu-Kissat was to be relegated. Even with their new top players, the team just couldn’t keep up with the dominance of the three other clubs in Helsinki.

During the spring of 1972, the story of Jokerit was about to end again. The season had been economically rough for all four teams from Helsinki. Aimo Mäkinen was losing interest. The junior Canada Series he had formed in 1969 was the thing that at this point kept him and Jokerit going.

Timo Haapaniemi was the person who had decisive influence in the continuing of the Jokerit tale during the spring of 1972. Aimo had lured the young gymnastics teacher from the Finnish Baseball circles to organize the Jokerit junior teams. The big Canada Junior Series started in 1969 and was played mainly in the eastern parts of Helsinki. Aimo’s dream was to use the series to grow a first team out of Jokerit’s own junior players only. The series did produce a lot of high quality players for the team, most notably Jari Kurri. It never provided Jokerit with a complete first team, however.

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