1970s Viikingit (The beginning)
In the winter 1970 an organized ice hockey club was born in the eastern part of Helsinki in Vuosaari. A small city block league Kanada series was played by its juniors. The series was intended for local teams called Detroid Red Wings, Ottawa Silver Seven, Chicago Blackhawks and Toronto Maple Leafs from Vuosaari, which was later called Vuosaaren Viikingit and from 1997 Viikingit Jääkiekko.
These mentioned teams were the founders of East Helsinki teams of today. One of the most successful ice hockey players in the Finnish history, number 8 Jari Kurri, played in the Vuosaari team.
1980s Viikingit (stabilizing the sport in Vuosaari)
The beginning of 1980 was very busy for the association. Different age groups had several level teams though the exercise was done on outside nature ice. Like the other local ice hockey clubs, also Viikingit coached and lifted the quality of their players. The ‘bigger’ clubs noticed this and were interested in getting these talented players into their teams. Soon Viikingit players were playing on the highest level of Finland.
Many original Viikingit players have become Finnish champions and played as professionals in Finland, Sweden and other places in Europe, for example Mika Strömberg, Valeri Krykov and Petri Pitkäjärvi.
1990s Viikingit (growing pains)
The beginning of 1990’s was a difficult time for the association. Ice hockey arenas were built in Finland, but not in Vuosaari, and in the eastern parts of Helsinki Viikingit and others were suffering of chronical lack of ice times. Only one ice hockey Arena offered ice times for eastern Helsinki clubs and for some reason Viikingit only got early Sunday morning times from that 2 rink Arena. Those winters were really ‘mild’ and the interest in having the practice done outside on a natural ice had decreased to almost a zero. All these things together caused the total amount of Viikingit players to decrease to 50 and amount of teams to only one.
After the ice time selection became better our Club started to grow. The age group born in 1982 was the first to stabilize a Viikingit new era. The parents of these players had new enthusiasm for their kids’ ice hockey. The flame was ignited for ‘Viikingit phenomenom’. The amount of players increased remarkably and systematically. The yearly ice hockey school for younger juniors produced one new team every year to play Finnish Ice hockey Federations south district league. 1993-1994 Viikingit had 6 teams altogether.
In 1995 a temporary 3 rink Arena was built at Vuosaari shipyard. This environment gave the Club the opportunity to grow as much as possible. Soon Viikingit had 200 players wearing the red jersey with red helmets. Without the shipyard Arena the growth would not have been possible. The strong growth needed more assets and professional people to look after the players, Club members and the high class operation in the Club.
During chairman Osmo Koskisto’s time the association changed its name to Viikingit Jääkiekko ry . The ’New’ Club employed Aku Holopainen as the head of trainers. Aku was on duty until 1999 and after that the work was taken over by Jukka Savolainen and Mikko Helanto. Jukka Savolainen also acted several years as headmaster and instructor for Viikingit ice hockey school for juniors.
Beginning of 2000s (challenges)
After Osmo Koskisto’s year 2000, Jari Hiljama was elected as a chairman of the board. He and Mikko Helanto had a big job because the shipyard Arena was to be shut down 2000-2001 and the club was at the time without indoor ice time. These two gentlemen with help from other board members struggled over the season with minor losses.
The shutdown of the shipyard indoor Arena caused the amount of players to decrease to 250. The club was in a situation that it needed something ‘extra’ to boost the activity. In 2001 the board decided to employ a professional from outside the association. Jari Risku was chosen as a new head of trainer and later Pekka Siikala (2002-2004) to help with the juniors and the ice hockey school.
In 2004, 13 teams and 270 players played in Viikingit and the strong increase of players/members had started. The same year the Club started a social project which was directed towards kindergarten kids and their teachers. Viikingit offered them free of charge ice skating and instruction by Jari Risku. After these first two years this project became so popular that the Club had to hire figure skating teacher Laura Oksanen to satisfy the demand. She was also asked to start scheming a new operating plan for the association in the end of 2005. Pekka Siikala was replaced by Max Buchert.
During 2005 the Finnish Ice hockey Federation started to audit Finnish ice hockey clubs, and Viikingit was online 2005-2006. The audit proved the strength and also the areas to be improved. As a whole the Club got a good and positive audit report and it was a proof that the board and the members had taken the development of the operation in the Club very seriously. In the beginning of 2006, as a result of the audit, the club employed Kimmo Oikarinen as a full time head of juniors. In the end of 2006 Viikingit had 400 players, which meant that beside men’s varsity team the Club had 2 teams in each junior age group, only B-junior team was missing. The association board was active, two full time employees and very active and eager players and members in different age groups. Jukka Savolainen and board member Timo Backman were rewarded with Finnish Ice hockey Federation Bronze medal for their long volunteer work at Viikingit association.
Max Buchert replaced Jari Hiljama as the chairman of the board and Rami Koivisto became the head of training in 2009. Sami Häppölä started to work with the juniors and the ice hockey school.
2010s Viikingit (new wind is blowing)
Jari Hiljama once again took over the position of chairman of the board and had a hard job keeping the Club contiguous because the teams were practicing in different indoor Arenas and all activities were spread out. Also the cooperation/contract with East Hockey Club made us to give players to their use. These uncertainties caused a small decrease in players, especially among C-A juniors (14-18years). In the spring 2011 the much expected indoor Arena called Aimo Mäkinen Arena was built in Vuosaari. All activities were concentrated to this new Arena and the club took the cafeteria under control. When stepping into the new Aimo Mäkinen Arena the Club renewed its logo. The new logo and Viikingit new look was warmly welcomed. The daily ice practice, warm up and all other activities centralized into one place in Vuosaari was a big step for the Club to get a more solid activity. Kari Rantanen was hired to goalkeeper coach (half time) for the Club teams.
Petri Konttila replaced Jari Hiljama in 2012 after being a board member for several years. In his first years in Viikingit the economic strategy was restructured and rebalanced. The Club had to terminate 2 out of 3 employee vacancies. Strategy was to concentrate on goalkeeping coaching and Kari Rantanen was made a full time employee. Operation procedure was developed and restructured and the number of board members was increased. These actions have been among other developments in the club to increase Viikingit players amount to 700 players during season 2016-2017.
In 2015 the Finnish Ice hockey Federation rewarded Petri Konttila with a bronze medal and Timo Backman with a silver medal for their work in Viikingit.
Viikingit has grown into a significant junior and adult ice hockey club in Finland.