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Finnish Lions aim for gold

Head Coach Jukka Jalonen together with his team management have set their target high.

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Hartwall Areena Helsinki  Suomi

"We aim for nothing less than the gold medal," says Finnish head coach Jukka Jalonen, who already has one golden medal in his pocket. Jalonen and his team captured the World Champion title in Bratislava in 2011. Last spring in Helsinki, the Finnish national team - or the Lions as the Finns call them - played the whole tournament on home ice and made its way to the bronze medal game. However, the Czech Republic defeated Finland 3-2 and the hosts finished the tournament fourth, tying their best finish at a home tournament. In 1974, the Finns finished fourth in their home tournament, but slipped to fifth in 1982, 1991, 1997, and 2003. In 1965, the Lions finished seventh. "Last spring was a slight disappointment and we need to do better this time," says Jalonen whose stint as the national team coach will end after the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. From the Finnish perspective the set-up in May 2013 is more than intriguing. For the preliminary round and quarter-finals, the Lions get to enjoy the support of the local fans as the team will play in Helsinki. If qualified for the semi-finals, the team will travel to Stockholm for the final weekend. What a great opportunity to forget about the pressure of being a home team at the most important stage of the tournament. Especially when you bear in mind what happened last time the World Championship finals were played in Globen. In 1995, Finland won its first World Championship title by beating the Swedes 4-1 in front of the Swedish fans. Will this be the time for a home team to break the spell of winning?
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