Tappara defeat Luleå to take CHL title
Undisciplined play characterised the opening stanza in the CHL Final between Tappara Tampere and Luleå Hockey as a pair of penalties were dealt to both sides to begin the contest.
Juhani Tyrväinen was called for the first infraction and Tappara capitalised on the ensuing man-advantage to take a 1-0 lead 1:42 in. Kristian Tanus skated into the right circle where he faked a shot, pulled the puck around a Luleå defender and let it go far side past Matteus Ward. The Finns' leading scorer, Niko Ojamäki, extended his club's lead a few minutes later he found the loose puck in the slot and wristed it past the Swedish netminder to secure his eighth goal of the season.
Second-period action got underway with Luleå still searching for their first goal, but the hosts were the ones controlling play at the start of the period forcing Heljanko into action. Neither side, however, was able to find the net and the score remained 2-0 after 40 minutes.
Entering the last stanza, Luleå found themselves in a similar situation to their 2015 appearance, down by two. That deficit would increase to three, when Lehterä skittered the puck past Ward off a deflection in front one minute in. Still with over eight minutes to play, the home side opted to pull their netminder during a 4-on-4 situation as they continued to fight their way back into the game.
A penalty by Lehterä helped Luleå's cause as they found twine for the first time off the stick of Erik Gustafsson who ripped one from the right circle past Heljanko to cut Tappara's lead back to two on the powerplay. The Swedes continued to claw their way back, netting their second courtesy of Tyrväinen who slid one past the pads of Heljanko to bring his team to within one with just over two minutes left in regulation.
With six attackers still on the ice, Luleå maintained sustained pressure, but the Tappara netminder would be the difference maker as the visitors held off their Swedish hosts to claim the title and become the 2023 CHL Champions.