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). The league has 12 total teams between two divisions and is organized by the Finnish Ice Hockey Association.
|Most recent season or competition:|
2019–20 Naisten Liiga season
|Inaugural season||as Naisten SM-sarja,|
as Naisten Liiga,
|Administrator||Finnish Ice Hockey Association|
|No. of teams||10 in Preliminary Series|
12 in Divisional Series
|Most titles||Kiekko-Espoo (14)|
|Relegation to||Naisten 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. 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. 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.
|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; Espoo Blues 1998–2016 & 2017–2019; Espoo United 2016–2017
- Team Kuortane: Team Oriflame/Team Oriflame Kuortane 2010–2014
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.
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.
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.
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
|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|
|Kalevan Pallo (KalPa)||0||0||3|
|Saimaan Pallo (SaiPa)||0||0||1|
- Includes record of Espoo Blues, Espoo United, and Espoon Kiekkoseura (EKS)
- Includes record of JyP HT
Women's Finnish Champions by seasonEdit
|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.|
- Included in record of Kiekko-Espoo
- Included in record of JYP
- 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.
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- Finnish Ice Hockey Association, ed. (21 March 2017). "Naisten SM-sarja historiaan - Ensi kaudella pelataan Naisten Liigaa". leijonat.fi (in Finnish). Retrieved 28 June 2019.
- Foster, Meredith (26 March 2019). "The Espoo Blues are the 2019 Aurora Borealis Cup Champions". The Ice Garden. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
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- Aykroyd, Lucas (29 March 2019). "Women's Worlds media round-table". International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF). Retrieved 28 June 2019.
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- 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.
- "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.
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