Jussi Ahokas' Journey from Europe to North America
Jussi Ahokas’ Journey from Europe to North America

Jussi Ahokas’ Journey from Europe to North America

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With over two decades of Head Coaching experience, Jussi Ahokas is one of the most successful European coaches the game has ever seen. 

What makes the 43-year-old special and glorified is his ability to achieve success at a variety of levels in a short amount of time. Ahokas’ ability to connect with younger players and get them to buy into a team mindset, while still continuing to develop their own skills, is remarkable. He has found a way to have continued success at a developmental level that experiences constant player turnover and where many of the players are still working to discover their game style. 

Ahokas began his career at the development level in 2004 as the Head Coach of the Kiekkoreipas U16 team. Ahokas spent 15 years coaching in the U16 through U20 age group on both the men’s and women’s side of the game. Through Ahokas’ leadership and dedication to the youth and development level of the sport, he led the Espoo Blues to a silver medal finish in the U20 league in 2013.

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Jussi Ahokas represented Finland across the U16, U17, U18 and U20 IIHF tournaments, as well as the Finnish Olympic team over 11 years.

During the 2007 through 2009 IIHF World Women’s Championships, Ahokas served as an Assistant Coach for Team Finland who won back-to-back bronze medals in 2008 and 2009. In 2010, he served as the video coach for Finland’s Olympic Women’s Team which would help bring home the nation’s second bronze medal in the Games. 

Continuing his focus on the international junior level, Ahokas broke through and masterminded Team Finland to a gold medal at the U18 World Championships in 2016 in Grand Forks, USA.  This was the first time in 16 years that Finland brought home the gold medal at the U18 World Championships. This milestone victory put Ahokas’ name alongside other greats in European hockey coaching history.

Ahokas’ continued success at the junior and international level landed him the prestigious Head Coaching position of Team Finland’s World Junior roster in 2017. He served as Finland’s U20 coach for the next four years. Ahokas’ career highlight is guiding Team Finland to a gold medal at the 2019 World Junior Championships. The nation’s fifth gold medal at the World Juniors occurred in thrilling fashion with Kappo Kakko scoring the game winning goal with 1:26 remaining in the third period to defeat an American team that featured the likes of Jack and Quinn Hughes.

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In 2019, Ahokas made the decision to shift away from the younger side of hockey and become the Head Coach of the Kouvola Kookoo in the Finnish Elite League (Liiga), Finland’s top men’s hockey league. After experiencing a 73 point season prior, Ahokas made a swift impact guiding KooKoo to a 110 point season which earned him the Kalevi Numminen Trophy which is awarded to the league’s Coach Of The Year. Ahokas’ stand-out coaching performances earned him a promotion in 2021 to be the Head Coach of Turku TPS where he led the club to a silver medal in his first season.

Ahokas’ monumental success in Europe’s various hockey leagues propelled him to accept a new challenge in North America. This year, Ahokas became the first European Head Coach in the Ontario Hockey League serving as the bench boss for Kitchener Rangers. He has once again made an immediate impact on his new team, leading Kitchener to a successful regular season. 

TCS Live - The Coaches Site Live - Jussi Ahokas
After over 20 years of coaching experience, Jussi Ahokas joined the Kitchener Rangers as head coach during the 2023/24 season.

Hear more about this recent success on this episode of Glass & Out.

We are ecstatic to welcome Jussi Ahokas to TCS Live in June. Ahokas will be sharing his perspective of the game, along with what makes him one of the most successful coaches to hail from Europe.

Get your TCS Live tickets to see Ahokas and the rest of the TCS presenters up close and in person!

Jack Strassner

Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Jack Strassner grew up playing hockey in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. Jack is a rising junior majoring in Sport Management, with a concentration in Marketing and Management, along with a minor in Coaching and Leadership, at the University of Michigan.