Nothing like the third time
by Risto Pakarinen|28 MAY 2019
The Finnish national team celebrates the world title with 50,000 fans in Helsinki.
photo: Riku Laukkanen / Finnish Ice Hockey Association
Sometimes life throws you in a situation that tests your true character. Before the tournament many people thought that Jukka Jalonen was handed a bag of lemons – and he made lemonade of them.

It also works the other way. Jalonen’s ragtag team of misfits were presented with an opportunity to show what they can do because sometimes life opens a door and you have to seize the moment. 

You may find yourself a captain of a hockey team with 18 players making their Worlds debut, and if you play your cards right – in other words, work hard, do everything for the team – you may find yourself scoring four goals in three games, including the game winning goal of the final, then hoisting the World Championship trophy and becoming a national hero. 

Can’t happen? Don’t tell that to Marko Anttila who is right now the most popular person in Finland. 

“There’s nothing he can’t do. I don’t have the words to describe him, but... he’s a huge leader,” defenceman Mikko Lehtonen, who was voted into the tournament All-Star team, told YLE. 

Veli-Matti Savinainen who picked up an assist to Anttila’s game-winner, was ready to make Marko Anttila the next president of Finland, to which Sauli Niinisto, the actual (current) president replied on Twitter: “Wouldn’t be worse than this old troll.”

And the president wasn’t the only one getting caught up in the World Championship - and Anttila - fever. 
Around 10,000 Helsinkians took the streets, bathing in the downtown fountain, climbing on statues, as they celebrated the nation’s third World Championship gold medal, and the first since 2011.

Like in this video:
Or a bit longer in this one:
The same scene could be seen around the country. In Tampere, the party lasted until 5 am when the last people left the fountain. 

Social media was full of different memes of the championship team, most revolving around the same theme: Marko Anttila.

Anttila’s nickname in Finnish, “Mörkö” translates to “bogeyman”, but it’s also the Finnish name of The Groke in Moomin cartoons by Finnish Tove Jansson. People were posting images of the Groke on social media, and the Arabia store that sells Moomin characters mugs had their window filled with The Grokes. 

A Finnish DJ, DJ ILG, even wrote a 52-second long song, in which he sampled in the call from the Russia game, and the “Did the Bogeyman bang it in” is now playing everywhere from trains to buses to offices around the country.

At that time the Finnish heroes were still in Bratislava, the Slovak capital where the Finns won two of their three World Championship titles, the other from 2011. On Monday afternoon it was time to return.
The team arrived in Finland in the late afternoon and was first welcome into Finland’s airspace by Hawk fighter jets of the Finnish Air Force. Also, Helsinki churches rang their bells in honor of the team.
The team had a welcome ceremony at the airport before getting a police escort to the official downtown Helsinki celebration where thousands more were waiting for them. Another screen was set up at the Helsinki train station because this time the parade didn’t end at the market square as in 1995 and 2011, but at a downtown park by the sea which couldn’t take in as many fans. There were estimated 50,000 fans in the park. 

Popular Finnish artists performed as the crowd greeted their heroes welcome back home. Players from other Finnish national teams – Finland won World Juniors gold and took a memorable silver at the Women’s Worlds on home ice – took the stage as well. And, President Niinisto also joined the team on the stage and hoisted the trophy but also left the stage as the president of the country.
According to Ilta-Sanomat, coach Jukka Jalonen’s popularity is also skyrocketing and he has already been booked to do speeches and presentations.

“When you believe in yourself and your vision, like every single player on this team, anything is possible. And it turned into something beautiful and unique,” Lehtonen said. 

Sometimes the stars align just right, fairy tales do come true, and everything is just right. 

Sunday was such a day for Finland. And Monday was another such day for Marko Anttila. 

It was his birthday. And there was not a bogeyman in sight.
Maailmanmestarit: Your 2019 World Champions celebrate back home in Finland.
photo: Riku Laukkanen / Finnish Ice Hockey Association