In this edition we take a trip to Hämeenlinna, Finland (population 67,000). Roughly one hundred kilometres north of Helsinki, in the heart of the historical province of Häme, it's the hometown of Winnipeg Jets right winger Antti Miettinen.
Where I grew up: “I lived in a small village, right outside the city with about 5000 people living there. There was a small school there about 100 metres from where I lived so I’d just walk to school everyday. There was a hockey rink in the backyard of the school so I’d just put my skates on at home and walk over there.”
What is the town like? “It’s a pretty cozy, small town that is right on the lake. The Vanajavesi Lake is pretty narrow but it is really long, about 100 kilometers through the canal. There are a lot of outdoor activities to do there like fishing, kayaking and golfing, similar to here in Canada.”
The people: “Finnish people are really friendly but they’re not as open as the people in Canada or the US but they are really nice and caring people. They like to keep within their own families and communities. There is not a lot of interaction outside of their families. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just a different culture.”
Memories of growing up in Hämeenlinna: “I have a lot of good memories there. All of my friends that I played hockey with are still my best friends now, even though they don’t play hockey anymore. Hockey gave me a lot more than work and a job, it gave me lifelong friends.
Parents influence on hockey career: “My parents put in so much with driving me to practices everyday because where we lived was a lot further. They helped me tremendously to get to where I am today.”
Summertime back home: “My wife and I have a house in the same town I grew up in. Being away for so long, you miss your family and friends. The calendar is pretty much booked for when we go home. We also have a cabin, about half an hour from the city on the lake so we like to go fishing and golfing and just spend time out there.”
Traditional Finnish meal: Reindeer meat with mashed potatoes and lingonberries with jam.
My hometown is known for: The Häme Castle located on the coast of lake Vanajavesi in the city center. The castle was built in the late 13th century to secure the Swedish power in central Finland.
Hockey culture in Hämeenlinna: “I’d say it’s a hockey city. The city is known for the hockey team, HPK (Hämeenlinnan Pallokerho) of the SM-liiga. They are one of the most successful teams in that league that play in a small city.”