Finland beats the Republic of China to win the first gold medal in men’s ice hockey

Finland won its first gold medal in men’s ice hockey with a 2-1 victory over the Russian Olympic Committee on Sunday in Beijing.

Finnish striker Hannes Bjornen scored the match-winning goal just 31 seconds into the third half. He added a decisive pass against Phil Boca in the second half, equalizing the score after the Republic of China opened the scoring in the first half.

This was the 18th edition of the men’s Olympic ice hockey tournament for Finland, undefeated in six matches in Beijing. The nation won silver in 1988 and 2006 and took bronze four times (1994, 1998, 2010, 2014) before winning the gold.

“It’s hard to say what those words mean,” said Finland striker Valtteri Vilpola, who won the Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings. “What a tough tournament. I felt like we played well the whole time, and that’s the reward.” in 2008. “Hockey is something important in Finland. It’s for all of us for sure.”

Harry Satry He made 16 saves, but it was the Finnish attacking attack and imposing the lead that won the day. Finland had a 21-14 shot advantage after two stints and finished with a 31-17 shot per game. Russia was chasing a second straight gold medal in men’s hockey – albeit not necessarily in name.

Russia competed as the Russian Olympic Committee because of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s ban, which prohibited Russian athletes from wearing their flag or any Russian symbol on their uniforms. It comes on the heels of IOC sanctions in 2018, when Olympic athletes from Russia won the gold medal at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

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The Republic of China opened the scoring with their second shot. With Bjorninen in the penalty area for an intense penalty, forward Mikhail Grigorenko He used a perfectly tuned screen from his teammate Pavel Karnukhov to beat Satri to lead 1-0 at just 7:17 in the match. Nikita Joseph He got the assist for the sixth point led by the team.

The Finns tied at just 3:28 in the second half. defenseman Phil Boca Send a bullet from inside the blue line that pierced the defenseman’s legs Nikita Nesterov And former goalkeeper Ivan Fedotov led the score 1-1.

The Finns took a 2-1 lead after 31 seconds of the third game. The sequence began with Fedotov giving the disc to Bjorninen. This led to the establishment of a pre-screening clinic in Finland as the Republic of China was touring in its own area. Striker Marco Antilla collected the puck and sent a shot in the wrist from above in the area. Björnen changed him to make the first advance for Finland.

Among the former NHL players who have won the gold medal for Finland: Forwards Marcus GranlundAnd the Valtteri Vilbola And the Leo Komarovas well as defense men Sami Watanin And the Mikko Latonen.

“A great team. Great effort. It wasn’t easy for us, but we found a way to win every game,” said Antilla. “We found a way to win these tough matches.”

The Beijing Olympics was the second in a row for the Winter Games without the participation of NHL players. Although there is an agreement between the NHL and the NHLPA to send players to Beijing, the league has decided to withdraw due to a fundamental change to the 2021-22 regular season schedule due to COVID-19 delays.

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Finland wasn’t the only Olympic team to make history in Beijing. Slovakia, which eliminated the United States in the quarter-finals, defeated Sweden 4-0 to win the bronze, the first Olympic medal in men’s hockey.

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