Division II of the Finnish American Football League (SAJL) is coming to a close, with the playing of the Rautamalja or Iron Bowl. This year’s participants will be the ever dominant Pori Bears (7-1) versus the surprising Mikkeli Bouncers (3-5). In their previous two matchups this season, Pori has come out victorious both times. But in the game of football the saying is “Any given Sunday” which will be this Sunday August 21, 2016 at 15:00 in Pori, Finland.
Pori Bears Championship Route
2014 – Expected to play in Division II, the Pori Bears did not field a men’s team.
2015 – The Bears returned to men’s league play in Division III. In this historic season, Pori completed an undefeated season while winning the Tinamalja or Tin Cup championship. Along with the Nokia Ghosthunters, the Pori Bears were promoted to Division II for 2016
2016 – The Pori Bears have continued what they started in Division III. With only a one point loss to the Nokia Ghosthunters in early July, the Bears are once again on top of the league standings entering the Championship game. This route has not been easy for the Bears, but they sure make it seem that way when you are looking at their documented success. It would be an understatement to think of them as anything other than heavy favorites in this Finals matchup.
Mikkeli Bouncers Underdogs again
Bouncers path to the Rautamalja is a little less glamorous. Started in 2010, the Mikkeli Bouncers have always been a Division II team. Except for the inaugural Division III season in 2014 where they went 7-1, won the final, and won their promotion game to get back to Division II in 2015. Last year the Bouncers had a .500 season but were able to play in the Rautamalja where they were handily defeated by the Kuopio Steelers.
This year is different. The Bouncers have played very tough during the final stretch of the season. Despite having lost to the Nokia Ghosthunters twice this season, they found a way to win in the semi finals when it mattered most. They face the same situation against the Pori Bears this Sunday for much bigger stakes. Underdogs or not, you can’t count this team out.
Good Luck to both teams
I wish both teams the best of luck and expect a great game between two great organizations. The winner of the Rautamalja will automatically be given the option to play in Division I in 2017. Because of the team landscape in Division I and the Maple League, there might also be the possibility that the runner-up of the Rautamalja is also allowed to join Division I next season. But of course the players and coaches only have one thing on their minds right now and that is winning the Rautamalja!
If you can’t make it to Pori, you can watch the game on livestream at https://www.youtube.com/user/SAJLJenkkifutis