The new SM-liiga season is now a week old and all teams have played three games bar Jokerit and Lukko who have played one fewer. Top of the heap, and in generally unfamiliar territory — even at this stage of the season — are perennial underdogs SaiPa. They opened their account by humiliating us in Raksila, squeezed past Pelicans in their next game, and then followed that up by trashing HIFK in Helsinki, the maintaining their 100% record, the only club to do so. JYP are two points behind in second place. They started brightly enough with successive workmanlike victories over their two northern neighbours, but threw away their 100% record tonight in Turku after giving up two short-handed goals and eventually losing the penalty shoot out. Level on points with JYP are Kerho, who announced earlier today that they are to retire the number 9 shirt, that of their long-serving former player Jyrki Louhi, who retired a year back.
In the league basement are Jokerit, without a point after two games. Well and truly hammered on the opening day by arch-rivals HIFK, they also succumbed to their hosts in Kuopio. Similarly on a big fat zero after two games were Kärpät. The omens were not too good for tonight’s game against Ässät, given that the visitors had won their first two games in convincing fashion without conceding a single goal. Needless to say, we pasted them 6-0 with returnee in the number 36 shirt Jussi Jokinen getting one of the goals.
Also arriving in Oulu from the NHL will be Sharks’ Jason Demers, not a name I’m familiar with, though from Harri Aho’s gushing about him he certainly sounds the business. Demers’ contract is to the end of the season or until the NHL owners and players resolve their differences, whichever is the sooner, and he is being brought in to cover the injured Oscar Eklund, who is expected to be out for a month. Also out for at least a month is Jari Viuhkola with his seemingly obligatory early season injury, this time to the hand. A better understanding of his rehabilitation will be gained when he undergoes surgery.