Naisten Liiga (ice hockey)

Naisten Liiga (Women's League), also called the Naisten SM-liiga (NSML) or Jääkiekon naisten SM-liiga (Women’s Ice Hockey Finnish Championship League), is the elite league for Finnish women's ice hockey. Until 2017, it was called the Naisten SM-sarja (Women’s Finnish Championship Series).[1][2] The league has 12 total teams between two divisions and is organized by the Finnish Ice Hockey Association.

Naisten Liiga
Most recent season or competition:
2019–20 Naisten Liiga season
Logo Naisten Liiga.png
FormerlyNaisten SM-sarja
SportIce hockey
Inaugural seasonas Naisten SM-sarja,
as Naisten Liiga,
AdministratorFinnish Ice Hockey Association
No. of teams10 in Preliminary Series
12 in Divisional Series
Country Finland
Most recent
Most titlesKiekko-Espoo (14)
TV partner(s)Ruutu
Relegation toNaisten Mestis
Domestic cup(s)Aurora Borealis Cup
International cup(s)European Women's Champions Cup

Kiekko-Espoo (previously “Espoo Blues” and “Espoo United”) has dominated Naisten Liiga in the 21st century, winning 14 Finnish Championships from 1999 to 2019.[3] Ilves is the second most successful club, with 10 championship titles, and are the only organization to have iced a team in every season since the league’s inception.

The majority of teams in Naisten Liiga share their names with men's Liiga teams (HIFK, HPK, Ilves, KalPa, Kärpät, Lukko, TPS, and Sport) but the women's teams have historically received few resources and limited promotion from the affiliated men's clubs.[4] In recent years progress has been made in building better relationships between the men’s and women’s teams; most men’s clubs now provide some support to their women’s counterparts by advertising games together or helping secure sponsorships.[5][6]


2020–2021 seasonEdit

Location of teams in the Naisten Liiga.
Team name Team full name Location Home venue Joined


HIFK Stadin Gimmat or HIFK Naiset   Helsinki Helsingin jäähalli 2019
HPK Hämeenlinnan Pallokerho Kiekkonaiset   Hämeenlinna Metritriski Areena 2009
Ilves Tampereen Ilves Naiset   Tampere Tesoman jäähalli 1982
KalPa Kalevan Pallo Naiset   Kuopio Olvi Areena 2010
Kiekko-Espoo Kiekko-Espoo Naiset   Espoo Tapiolan harjoitussaree 1990
Kärpät Oulun Kärpät Naiset   Oulu Oulun Energia Areena 1994
Lukko Rauman Lukko Naiset   Rauma Kivikylän Areena 2016
RoKi Rovaniemen Kiekko   Rovaniemi Lappi Areena 2019
Sport Vaasan Sport Naiset   Vaasa Vaasan Sähkö Arena 2018
Team Kuortane Team Kuortane   Kuortane Kuortaneen jäähalli 2010
TPS Turun Palloseura Naiset   Turku Marli Areena 2018

Naisten Liiga teams, previously known by different name(s)

  • Kiekko-Espoo: EKS (Espoon Kiekkoseura) 1990–1992[7]; Espoo Blues 1998–2016 & 2017–2019;[8] Espoo United 2016–2017[9]
  • Team Kuortane: Team Oriflame/Team Oriflame Kuortane 2010–2014[10]

Past participantsEdit

Sources: [11][12]


Season formatEdit

The season format of the Naisten Liiga has changed many times over the league’s history. The format described here was introduced for the 2019–20 season.[13]

Preliminary series

The preliminary series (Finnish: Alkusarja) is played as a double round-robin plus a two-game Opening Weekend Tournament; each of the ten teams plays a total of twenty matches. Points awarded by match outcome: three points for a regulation win, two points for an overtime win, one point for an overtime loss, and no points/zero points for a regulation loss. The points earned in the opening series determine which division a team will be sorted for the continuation of the season.

Divisional series

In the divisional series, the teams are grouped into two divisions of six teams. Each division is played as a double round-robin, each team plays a total of ten games. The top six ranked teams from the preliminary series qualify for the Upper Division (Finnish: Ylempi jatkosarja). Upper Division teams are guaranteed placement in the playoffs; the points earned in the ten divisional series games are added to the point totals from the preliminary series and used to establish the teams' playoff berths, from first to sixth. Only points earned in the Upper Division series are considered when determining the recipients of the Marianne Ihalainen Award, for most regular season points earned, and the Tiia Reima Award, for most regular season goals scored.

The bottom four teams from the preliminary series move on to the Lower Division (Finnish: Alempi jatkosarja), where they are joined by the top two teams from the Cross-Qualifiers (Finnish: Ristiinkarsinta) of the Naisten Mestis, the league directly below Naisten Liiga. The Lower Division teams compete for the seventh and eighth seed positions in the playoffs; only the top two ranked teams from the Lower Division earn placement in the playoffs. Unlike the in Upper Division, all Lower Division teams start the divisional series with zero points, only points earned in the series are considered when the teams are ranked.

Qualifying series

The Lower Division teams ranked third through sixth continue on to the qualifying series (Finnish: Karsintasarja). The points earned in the six qualifying series games are added to the points totals from the Lower Division series. The two teams with the highest point totals qualify for the following Naisten Liiga season, the two lower ranked teams are relegated to the Naisten Mestis for the following season.

Game formatEdit

A regulation game is sixty minutes in length, played over three 20-minute periods. In the event of a tie at the end of regulation time the winner is decided by a five-minute-length, three-skaters-per-side overtime period. If the game remains tied after the overtime period, the teams proceed to a shootout, in which each team designates three skaters to take penalty shots, one at a time, against the opposing goaltender. Teams alternate shots and each team takes one shot per round. The winner is the team with more goals after three rounds or the team that amasses an unreachable advantage before the third round. If the shootout is tied after three rounds, tie-breaker rounds are played one at a time until there is a winner.


All-time medal countEdit

     – team currently in league

Kiekko-Espoo[a] 14 2 8
Tampereen Ilves 10 12 6
Oulun Kärpät 3 7 7
Keravan Shakers 3 4 1
JYP Jyväskaylä[b] 3 4 0
Helsingin Jääkiekkoklubi (HJK) 2 1 1
Etelä-Vantaan Urheilijat (EVU) 1 5 1
Hämeenlinnan Pallokerho (HPK) 1 1 4
Itä-Helsingin Kiekko (IHK) 0 1 0
HIFK/Stadin Gimmat 0 0 2
Kalevan Pallo (KalPa) 0 0 3
Saimaan Pallo (SaiPa) 0 0 1
Vaasan Sport 0 0 1
Team Kuortane 0 0 1


  1. ^ Includes record of Espoo Blues, Espoo United, and Espoon Kiekkoseura (EKS)
  2. ^ Includes record of JyP HT

Sources: [14][15][16]

Women's Finnish Champions by seasonEdit

Season   Champion   Runner-up   Third Place
1982–83 HJK Helsinki Ilves Tampere EVU Vantaa
1983–84 HJK Helsinki EVU Vantaa Ilves Tampere
1984–85 Ilves Tampere EVU Vantaa HJK Helsinki
1985–86 Ilves Tampere HJK Helsinki Vaasan Sport
1986–87 Ilves Tampere EVU Vantaa Keravan Shakers
1987–88 Ilves Tampere EVU Vantaa HIFK Helsinki
1988–89 EVU Vantaa Ilves Tampere HIFK Helsinki
1989–90 Ilves Tampere EVU Vantaa SaiPa Lappeenranta
1990–91 Ilves Tampere Keravan Shakers EKS Espoo[a]
1991–92 Ilves Tampere Keravan Shakers EKS Espoo[a]
1992–93 Ilves Tampere Keravan Shakers Kiekko-Espoo
1993–94 Keravan Shakers Ilves Tampere Kiekko-Espoo
1994–95 Keravan Shakers Ilves Tampere KalPa Kuopio
1995–96 Keravan Shakers Oulun Kärpät KalPa Kuopio
1996–97 JyP HT Jyväskylä[b] Keravan Shakers Kiekko-Espoo
1997–98 JYP Jyväskylä Oulun Kärpät Kiekko-Espoo
1998–99 Espoo Blues[a] JYP Jyväskylä Ilves Tampere
1999-2000 Espoo Blues[a] Oulun Kärpät Ilves Tampere
2000–01 Espoo Blues[a] Oulun Kärpät Ilves Tampere
2001–02 Espoo Blues[a] IHK Helsinki Oulun Kärpät
2002–03 Espoo Blues[a] Oulun Kärpät Ilves Tampere
2003–04 Espoo Blues[a] Ilves Tampere Oulun Kärpät
2004–05 Espoo Blues[a] Ilves Tampere Oulun Kärpät
2005–06 Ilves Tampere Oulun Kärpät Espoo Blues[a]
2006–07 Espoo Blues[a] Oulun Kärpät IHK Helsinki
2007–08 Espoo Blues[a] Ilves Tampere Oulun Kärpät
2008–09 Espoo Blues[a] Ilves Tampere HPK Hämeenlinna
2009–10 Ilves Tampere Espoo Blues[a] HPK Hämeenlinna
2010–11 HPK Hämeenlinna Ilves Tampere Oulun Kärpät
2011–12 Oulun Kärpät Ilves Tampere HPK Hämeenlinna
2012–13 Espoo Blues[a] JYP Jyväskylä Oulun Kärpät
2013–14 Espoo Blues[a] JYP Jyväskylä HPK Hämeenlinna
2014–15 Espoo Blues[a] JYP Jyväskylä Ilves Tampere
2015–16 JYP Jyväskylä HPK Hämeenlinna Espoo Blues[a]
2016–17 Oulun Kärpät Espoo United[a] KalPa Kuopio
2017–18 Oulun Kärpät Ilves Tampere Team Kuortane
2018–19 Espoo Blues[a] Ilves Tampere Oulun Kärpät
2019–20[c] Post-season cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Included in record of Kiekko-Espoo
  2. ^ Included in record of JYP
  3. ^ The 2019–20 Naisten Liiga post-season was cancelled by the Finnish Ice Hockey Association on 12 March 2020, citing public health concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. The Aurora Borealis Cup Finnish Championship finals between Kiekko-Espoo and KalPa and the Finnish Championship Bronze Medal games between Team Kuortane and Kärpät were scheduled to begin on 14 March 2020. With the cancellation of the season, neither the Aurora Borealis Cup nor any Finnish Championship medals were awarded for the 2019–20 season.[17]

Sources: [14][15][16][18]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Foster, Meredith (21 March 2017). "Finnish Women's Hockey League Unveils New Name, Logo". The Ice Garden. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  2. ^ Finnish Ice Hockey Association, ed. (21 March 2017). "Naisten SM-sarja historiaan - Ensi kaudella pelataan Naisten Liigaa". (in Finnish). Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  3. ^ Foster, Meredith (26 March 2019). "The Espoo Blues are the 2019 Aurora Borealis Cup Champions". The Ice Garden. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  4. ^ Foster, Meredith (24 March 2017). "Women's Pro Hockey in Finland Tries to Get More Spotlight". The Victory Press. Retrieved 27 June 2019.
  5. ^ Aykroyd, Lucas (29 March 2019). "Women's Worlds media round-table". International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF). Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  6. ^ Teiskonlahti, Kirsi (11 September 2018). "Naiskiekon arvostus on kasvanut, mutta ihannetilanteeseen on Suomessa vielä pitkä matka – kehitys vaatii hurmosta ja SM-liigaseurojen apua" [Appreciation for women's hockey has increased but it is far from an ideal situation in Finland - development will require funds and assistance from Liiga clubs] (in Finnish). YLE Sport. Retrieved 8 July 2019.
  7. ^ "HISTORIA: Kiekko-Espoo Naiset" (in Finnish). Kiekko-Espoo Naiset. Retrieved 13 July 2019.
  8. ^ Foster, Meredith (30 April 2019). "Kiekko-Espoo absorb Espoo Blues, rejoin top tier". The Ice Garden. Retrieved 27 June 2019.
  9. ^ Foster, Meredith (4 September 2017). "Blue Monday: Blues Espoo join Naisten Liiga". The Ice Garden. Retrieved 27 June 2019.
  10. ^ Ikonen, Petteri (14 September 2014). "Naisten SM // Team Kuortane: "Vahvuuksia ovat maalivahtipeli ja tiivis viisikkopelaaminen"" [Women’s Finnish Championship // Team Kuortane: “Strengths include goaltending and a strong five-player game”] (in Finnish). Finnish Ice Hockey Association. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  11. ^ Hunter, Andria (2008). "Finnish Women's Hockey League Results: 1990-91 to 1994-95". Retrieved 8 July 2019.
  12. ^ Aaltonen, Juha, ed. (2019). Jääkiekkokirja: Suomen Jääkiekkoliiton ja Liigan Virallinen Kausijulkaisu 2019–2020 [The Ice Hockey Book: The Finnish Ice Hockey Association and Liiga Official Guide & Record Book 2019–2020] (PDF) (in Finnish). Layout by Joonas Ahola. Jääkiekon SM-liiga Oy & Suomen Jääkiekkoliito. Annamedia Oy. ISSN 0784-3321. Retrieved 24 March 2020.
  13. ^ "Sarjatoiminta: Sarjojen pelaamistavat miehet, naiset ja A–C nuoret: Kaavio Naisten Sarjat 19-20" (in Finnish). Finnish Ice Hockey Association. June 2019. Retrieved 21 January 2020.
  14. ^ a b "Liiga (W)". Elite Prospects. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  15. ^ a b "Compétitions nationales: Finlande hockey féminin 1997-98 to 2014-15". Hockey Archives (in French). Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  16. ^ a b "Naisten Liiga details". Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  17. ^ Mennander, Pasi (12 March 2020). "Koronavirus lopettaa Jääkiekkoliiton alaisten sarjojen kauden". (in Finnish). Finnish Ice Hockey Association. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  18. ^ Salmela, Sari; Pelkonen, Johanna (2008). "SM-sarjan historiaa vuosilta 1982 - 2008" [History of the SM-sarja from 1982 to 2008]. (in Finnish). Archived from the original on 6 September 2008. Retrieved 6 July 2019.

External linksEdit