Pertti “Pepita” Nieminen, a forward with the Finnish national team and long-time Finnish-league veteran, died on 8th November in Turku, Finland. Cause of death was not announced.
A native of Hameenlinna, Nieminen rose to prominence with HPK starting in 1952. He was a star on the team for six years before transferring to TPS Turku, where he played another ten years. During that time he became team captain, and in his last two years he was head coach in addition to player. After retiring as a player, he continued to coach fro several years.
Nieminen made his first appearance for Suomi at the 1957 World Championship in Moscow. Finland finished fourth in what was only the team’s sixth ever appearance at the tournament. He played in six successive tournaments for Finland, including five World Championships and the 1960 Olympics.
Although Finland never earned a medal during these years, Nieminen did score a vital goal on 6 March 1959, in a 4-4 tie with Sweden. The result marked the first time Finland had earned a point against its archrivals in World Championship play dating back a decade and seven games.
It was at the Olympics in Squaw Valley, however, that Nieminen was at his best. Although not known as a scorer, he had three two-goal games and scored twice in the third period of an 8-4 loss to the Soviets. It was only Finland’s second appearance at the Olympics.
Incredibly, Nieminen was a world-class footballer as well, helping the TPS team to a silver medal at the national championship in 1960.
For his distinguished career, the Finnish Ice Hockey Association made him Lion number 32 in the country’s pantheon of greats in 1985.