|Home arena||Tapiolan harjoitusareena|
|Colours||Navy, gold, blue |
|Head coach||Sami Haapanen|
|1989–1992||Espoon Kiekkoseura (EKS)|
|Aurora Borealis Cup||16 (1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2019, 2021, 2022)|
Kiekko-Espoo Naiset are an ice hockey team in the Naisten Liiga. They play in the Tapiola district of Espoo, Finland at the harjoitusareena ('training arena') of the Tapiolan urheilupuisto. The team was founded as Espoon Kiekkoseura or EKS in 1989 and has also been known as Espoo Blues Naiset and Espoo United Naiset during its tenure in the Naisten Liiga. Kiekko-Espoo have won the Aurora Borealis Cup as the Finnish Champions in women's ice hockey sixteen times, six more wins than any other team in league history; at least one Finnish Championship medal (gold, silver, or bronze) was won under each of the four names.
The parent club, Kiekko-Espoo Oy, also has a representative men's ice hockey team in the Mestis, a representative ringette team in the Ringeten SM-sarja, and active sections in minor and junior ice hockey and youth ringette.
The team entered Naisten SM-sarja (now Naisten Liiga) in the 1990–91 season under the name Espoon Kiekkoseura or EKS. The two seasons played as EKS were an impressive showing for the newcomers and each resulted in a bronze medal, one in the 1990–91 season after defeating Ässät and one in the 1991–92 season after defeating KalPa.
Several EKS players also played for the bronze medal winning Finnish women's national team at the 1992 IIHF World Championship including Liisa Karikoski, Katri-Helena Luomajoki, and Hanna Teerijoki.
In 1992 EKS was renamed Kiekko-Espoo, the same name as its brother-team in the Liiga. The team continued to be held to bronze or lower finishes, making it to five bronze medal series in six years and winning four of them (1993, 1994, 1997, 1998).
The Golden Age: Espoo Blues, 1998–2016
The team was renamed Espoo Blues in 1998, continuing the trend of sharing the name of its brother-team in the Liiga, which also renamed Espoo Blues in that year. The name change unwittingly marked the beginning of a "golden age" for the team. Starting with their first SM-sarja gold medal in 1999, after achieving victory over JYP Jyväskylä in the finals, they went on to win a staggering seven consecutive championships (1999–2005) and a total of thirteen championships in eighteen years. The Blues were kept off the SM-sarja medal podium only three times in the 1998–2016 span; in addition to their championship titles, they earned the team's first silver medal in 2009 and two more bronze medals in 2006 and 2016.
The Espoo Blues were also strong competitors at international tournaments in this period, earning medals at six IIHF European Women's Champions Cups: three silver medals (2005, 2007-08, 2009-10) and three bronze medals (2008-09, 2013–14, 2014–15).
Espoo United, 2016–17
In March 2016 Jääkiekko Espoo Oy, the parent club of both the Espoo Blues of the Naisten Liiga and Espoo Blues of the Liiga, declared bankruptcy with estimated liabilities of approximately €3 million. In response, Jussi Salonoja, a Finnish millionaire and film director who had previously owned the Espoo Blues franchise from 2002–2012, created a new club and organization called Espoo United Oy, stating that he was "committed to supporting hockey in Espoo." The Espoo Blues men's and women's basketball and ice hockey teams would play for Espoo United.
For the 2016–17 season the Espoo United women's ice hockey team played in the Naisten SM-sarja and won silver in the 2017 Finnish Championship. The Espoo United men's team played in the Mestis, the league below the premier-level Liiga, where they won bronze in the playoffs.
On 15 August 2017 Salonoja announced that the Espoo United was abandoning its women's ice hockey and basketball teams for financial reasons. “The reason is twofold: the men's teams' budgets are far greater than those of women's teams, so their running is more demanding, but on the other hand, [the men's teams] are more interesting to sponsors and audiences,” Salonoja said.
The future of women's ice hockey team was left uncertain and many possible solutions were proposed, including being acquired by HIFK or merging with Espoo Blues Juniorit (a junior club with strong ties to the franchise).
Espoo Blues part 2, 2017–2019
In September 2017 the Finnish Ice Hockey Association announced that it had supported the creation of an independent association, Ysikoppi ry, to oversee the team and had given its approval for the team to compete in the upcoming 2017–18 season under the name Espoo Blues.
Players and personnel
Coaching staff and team personnel
- Head coach: Sami Haapanen
- Assistant coach: Johanna Leskinen
- Goaltending coach: Risto Jaakkola
- Conditioning coach: Viola Kaukonen
- Team managers: Riku Eskelinen & Timo Timonen
- Equipment manager: Marko Ahlroth
Team captaincy history
- Katri-Helena Luomajoki, 1997–98
- Essi Sievers, 2007–2009
- Emma Terho (née Laaksonen), 2009–2011
- Essi Sievers, 2011–12
- Emma Terho, 2012–2014
- Minttu Tuominen, 2014–2016
- Linda Leppänen (née Välimäki), 2016–17
- Minttu Tuominen, 2017–2020
- Annina Rajahuhta, 2020–21
- Minttu Tuominen, 2021–22
- Emmi Rakkolainen, 2022–23
- Johanna Ikonen, 1998–99
- Jari Kalho, 2000–01
- Hannu Saintula, 2001–02
- Jari Peltonen, 2002–2006
- Sami Haapanen, 2008–2011
- Kai Jansson, 2012–13
- Sami Haapanen, 2013–
- Aurora Borealis Cup (16): 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2019, 2021, 2022
- Runners-up (3): 2010, 2017, 2023
- Third Place (8): 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1997, 1998, 2006, 2016
This is a partial list of the most recent seasons completed by the franchise. The team was called the “Espoo Blues” during the 2015–16, 2017–18, and 2018–19 seasons; “Espoo United” in the 2016–17 season, and “Kiekko-Espoo” from the 2019–20 season on.
Note: Finish = Rank at end of regular season; GP = Games played; W = Wins (3 points); OTW = Overtime wins (2 points); OTL = Overtime losses (1 point); L = Losses (0 points); GF = Goals for; GA = Goals against; Pts = Points
|Season||League||Regular season||Post season results|
|2015–16||Naisten SM-sarja||2nd||28||19||3||1||5||162||67||64||L. Välimäki 70 (31+39)||Won bronze medal, 1–0 (Kärpät)|
|2016–17||Naisten SM-sarja||2nd||28||17||3||1||7||109||68||58||L. Välimäki 60 (29+31)||Lost final, 2–3 (Kärpät)|
|2017–18||Naisten Liiga||3rd||30||16||2||4||8||125||74||56||E. Rakkolainen 27 (16+11)||4th: Lost bronze medal, 0–1 (Kuortane)|
|2018–19||Naisten Liiga||1st||30||23||1||0||6||164||58||71||A. Rajahuhta 66 (36+30)||Won Championship, 3–0 (Ilves)|
|2019–20||Naisten Liiga||1st||30||20||3||2||5||145||60||68||E. Rakkolainen 42 (13+29)||Won semi-final, 3–0 (Team Kuortane);|
Finals cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic
|2020–21||Naisten Liiga||1st||27||21||1||0||5||124||46||65||N. Laitinen 37 (13+24)||Won Championship, 3–1 (KalPa)|
|2021–22||Naisten Liiga||1st||30||27||1||0||2||182||44||83||E. Holopainen 56 (29+27)||Won Championship, 3–2 (HIFK)|
|2022–23||Naisten Liiga||3rd||36||23||2||1||10||142||70||74||A. Montonen 42 (21+21)||Lost final, 0–3 (HIFK)|
Franchise records and leaders
- As of June 2022
- Most goals in a season: Karoliina Rantamäki, 39 goals (24 games; 2002–03)
- Most assists in a season: Minttu Tuominen, 50 assists (30 games; 2018–19)
- Most points in a season: Michelle Karvinen, 81 points (22 games; 2008–09)
- Most points in a season, defenceman: Minttu Tuominen, 62 points (30 games; 2018–19)
- Most penalty minutes in a season: Tea Villilä, 76 PIM (16 games; 2008–09)
- Best save percentage in a season, over ten games played: Noora Räty, .954 SVS% (19 games; 2006–07) / Isabella Laiho (née Portnoj), .954 SVS% (19 games; 2013–14)
- Best goals against average in a season, over ten games played: Noora Räty, 1.21 GAA (19 games; 2006–07)
- Most career goals: Karoliina Rantamäki, 355 goals (338 games; 1992–2007)
- Most career assists: Petra Vaarakallio, 351 assists (286 games; 1992–1994, 1995–2006)
- Most career points: Karoliina Rantamäki, 639 points (338 games; 1992–2007)
- Best career points per game, over 30 games played: Michelle Karvinen, 3.667 points per game (39 games; 2007–2009)
- Most career points, defenceman: Minttu Tuominen, 313 points (208 games; 2006–2009, 2013–2016, 2017–2020)
- Most career penalty minutes: Tea Villilä, 353 penalty minutes (169 games; 2008–2010, 2016–2021)
All-time scoring leaders
The top-ten point-scorers in franchise history, 1982 through the conclusion of the 2021–22 season.
Source(s): Elite Prospects
Years active with Kiekko-Espoo listed alongside player name.
- Kati Ahonen, 1996–1999
- Mira Huhta, 2013–2019
- Sanna Kanerva, 1998–2001
- Liisa Karikoski, 1990–1994
- Piia Kotikumpu (née Lallukka), 2000–2009 & 2011–12
- Linda Leppänen (née Välimäki), 2010–2017
- Pia Lund, 2006–2013
- Katri-Helena Luomajoki, 1990–1994 & 1995–2002
- Sari Marjamäki (née Fisk), 2003–2007
- Terhi Mertanen, 2001–02, 2008–2011, 2012–13 & 2014–15
- Emma Nuutinen, 2011–2016 & 2020–21
- Oona Parviainen, 1999–2010
- Annina Rajahuhta, 2008–09 & 2012–2021
- Karoliina Rantamäki, 1992–2007
- Tiia Reima, 2009–2011
- Meeri Räisänen, 2008–2011
- Noora Räty, 2005–2009
- Maria Saarni (née Selin), 1994–2000
- Essi Sievers, 2002–2010 & 2011–2014
- Jenna Silvonen, 2015–2019 & 2022–23
- Hanna Teerijoki, 1991–1994
- Emma Terho (née Laaksonen), 1996–2000, 2004–2007 & 2008–2015
- Noora Tulus, 2013–2016
- Satu Tuominen, 2001–2009
- Petra Vaarakallio, 1992–2006
- Päivi Virta (previously Halonen), 1997–2006
- Marjo Voutilainen, 2004–2008
- Heidi Wiik, 1999–2005
- Susanne Ceder, 1998–2000
- Minna Dunder, 1993–94
- Moeko Fujimoto, 2014–15
- Nikola Gápová, 2015–2018
- Sheila Gagnon, 2001–02 & 2008–09
- Jin Fengling, 2005–06
- Marianne Mattila, 1996–1998
- Danielle Rozon, 2017–18
- Sun Rui, 2005–06
- Arina Zvezdina, 2011–12
- Foster, Meredith (26 March 2019). "The Espoo Blues are the 2019 Aurora Borealis Cup Champions". The Ice Garden. Retrieved 13 July 2019.
- "Historia". Kiekko-Espoo Naiset (in Finnish). Retrieved 13 July 2019.
- "Espoo Blues Women - In English". Blues Naiset. 2012. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
- Hiitelä, Juha (12 April 2016). "Konkurssipesä myöntää: Bluesin tilanteeseen ei ratkaisua" [Bankrupt organization concedes: Blues situation has no solution] (in Finnish). Ilta-Sanomat. Retrieved 13 July 2019.
- Lempinen, Marko (28 April 2016). "Nyt se on varmaa: Jussi Salonoja perusti uuden seuran – "Lähetän hakupaperit tänään"" [Now it is certain: Jussi Salonoja founded a new club - "I'm submitting league admittance papers today"] (in Finnish). Ilta-Sanomat. Retrieved 13 July 2019.
- "Espoo Unitedin konkurssista tuli virallista" [Espoo United's bankruptcy becomes official] (in Finnish). Ilta-Sanomat. 4 May 2018. Retrieved 13 July 2019.
- "Espoo United Cuts Women's Basketball & Ice Hockey Teams". News Now Finland. 15 August 2017. Archived from the original on 17 August 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
- Oivio, Janne; Lempinen, Marko (15 August 2017). "Jussi Salonojalta raju ratkaisu: Espoo United hylkää naisjoukkueet" [Jussi Salonoja makes a drastic decision: Espoo United to reject women's teams] (in Finnish). Ilta-Sanomat. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
Syy kaksijakoinen: miesten joukkueiden budjetit ovat selvästi suuremmat kuin naisten joukkueissa, eli niiden toiminnan pyörittäminen on vaativampaa, mutta toisaalta juuri ne kiinnostavat sponsoreita ja yleisöä enemmän, Salonoja sanoo.
- Foster, Meredith (17 August 2017). "Espoo United women's team folds one month before puck drop". The Ice Garden. Retrieved 17 August 2019.
- Tammilehto, Teemu; Leinonen, Simu (15 August 2017). "HIFK on kiinnostunut Salonojan hylkäämästä Espoo Unitedin naisjoukkueesta" [HIFK is interested in the Espoo United women's team that Salonoja has abandoned] (in Finnish). yle. Retrieved 17 August 2019.
- "Espoo Unitedin sarjapaikka Naisten Liigassa Ysikoppi ry:lle" [Espoo United has a place in the Naisten Liiga with Ysikoppi ry] (in Finnish). Finnish Ice Hockey Association. 4 September 2017. Archived from the original on 17 August 2019. Retrieved 17 August 2019.
- Saarinen, Joska (4 September 2017). "Espoo Unitedin hylkäämä joukkue sai tarvittavat rahat kasaan: "Kumppaneita on sen verran, että uskallamme lähteä kauteen"" [Rejected by Espoo United, the team got the money they needed: "There are so many partners that we dare to enter the season"] (in Finnish). yle. Retrieved 17 August 2019.
- "Naisten Liiga (W) – Kiekko-Espoo 2023-2024 Roster". Elite Prospects. Retrieved 10 October 2023.
- "2023-2024, Naisten Liiga – Kookoonpano K-Espoo". Finnish Ice Hockey Association. Retrieved 10 October 2023.
- "2015–16 Naisten SM-sarja playoff" (.xls). tilastopalvelu.fi (in Finnish). Finnish Ice Hockey Association. March 2016. Retrieved 30 June 2020.
- "2016–17 Naisten SM-sarja playoff". tilastopalvelu.fi (in Finnish). Finnish Ice Hockey Association. March 2017. Retrieved 30 June 2020.
- "2017–18 Naisten Liiga pudotuspelit". tilastopalvelu.fi (in Finnish). Finnish Ice Hockey Association. March 2018. Retrieved 1 July 2020.
- "2018–19 Naisten Liiga pudotuspelit". tilastopalvelu.fi (in Finnish). Finnish Ice Hockey Association. March 2019. Retrieved 1 July 2020.
- "2019–20 Naisten Liiga pudotuspelit". tilastopalvelu.fi (in Finnish). Finnish Ice Hockey Association. March 2020. Retrieved 1 July 2020.
- "Kiekko-Espoo - All Time Regular Season Player Stats". Elite Prospects. Retrieved 29 March 2021.