On Saturday, the 2nd of December, the Finnish capital hosted the first ever open-air regular season match in KHL history. The game ended in a 4-3 win for SKA over Jokerit, and here, khl.ru takes a pictorial look back at some of the high points of the festivities.
More than 17,000 people packed the stands to watch Jokerit and SKA play under open skies, and every single spectator played a part in making the atmosphere suit such a unique occasion.
The attendance was a little below the capacity of 18,300, but it was still a healthy turnout. As this picture shows, the harsh Finnish winter is well underway, and the stands did not, at first glance, appear to be the sturdiest constructions ever made. The stands were tougher than they looked, however, and did not wilt or sag.
It is less than five minutes to the opening face-off, and the fans are still arriving in droves at Kaisaniemi Park, where 90 years ago Finnish hockey was born. All the stadium places were standing only, just as they were nine decades ago. The fans were happy to spend the whole game on their feet, and the SKA sector was particularly visible and audible.
Many had dressed specially for the occasion. There were the unique team uniforms…
… and the woolly hats for the pre-match skate The war paint...
… and the puffer jackets to warm the coaches on the bench.…
… and the wall of flame heralding the players' arrival on the ice.
The crowd scarcely needed any encouragement to raise the decibel level, but Jokerit's cheerleaders took part in the occasion in their special outdoor gear, and they looked no less striking as a result.
After the game, the players were unanimous in their praise for the playing surface. For an open-air venue in temperatures hovering around zero, the ice was certainly better than many expected. There was a festive atmosphere among the spectators, but out on the ice the two teams produced a fierce and uncompromising battle, with passions threatening to spill over at any moment.
The scorer of the opening goal in this historic match was Ilya Kovalchuk.
SKA was the victor, but in the end, few who attended this match would have felt they had lost. The people of Helsinki can be proud of the way their city staged this event.