More Unforgettable Matches
The NHL visits continued in October of 2011 at Hartwall Arena as the Anaheim Ducks and the Buffalo Sabres opened their seasons in Helsinki. On the 4th of October, Jokerit played an exhibition game against Anaheim. Teemu Selänne was playing in Anaheim shirt, but it was very clear who was the crowd favorite. It was a night Teemu will surely remember for the rest of his life.
On the 8th of November 2011, the Aimo Mäkinen Areena – an ice hall with two rinks financed with two million euros from the inheritance of the Jokerit founder – was inaugurated in Vuosaari. In the inauguration match, the main club of the hall, Vikings, fought against the Aimos-team that was made up of former league players from Jokerit.
Earlier the same year, on J. L. Runeberg’s Day (5TH of February 2011) at the Olympic Stadium of Helsinki, HIFK and Jokerit played the first Winter Classic (also known as the Helsinki Derby). Jokerit hosted the event with the dear enemies HIFK as the guest team. The seats of the stadium were filled with 36 644 people. A game for points in the top ice hockey league was played on an outside rink for the first time in 45 years. The scores by Teemu Pulkkinen and Jukka Hentunen weren’t enough for league points, however. HIFK won the match 4-3.
The next year (4th of November 2012) it was time for HIFK to host the Winter Classic. Even though it was 20 degrees Celsius below zero outside, there were still 34 264 people attending. IFK was in the lead 2-0, but Jokerit evened up the score with the help of Teuvo Teräväinen and Jarkko Ruutu. The final victory was decided through penalty shots for HIFK.
The big games between HIFK and Jokerit continued after the regular season in March, as the two teams met each other again the second spring in a row in the playoff quarterfinals. HIFK had been third and Jokerit sixth in the regular season. The hardship from spring 2011 was completely gone as Jokerit defeated their opponent in four matches. In the playoff semifinals, the future champion JyP was too much for Jokerit. Jokerit managed to grab bronze with the help of Josef Boumedienne in extra time over Blues 4-3.
Erkka Westerlund ended his roughly two-year period as head coach for Jokerit with a bronze in the Finnish Elite League. For the 2012-13 season, Jokerit went into play with Tomi Lämsä as their head coach.