Finland defeats Russia, wins first Olympic gold in hockey

BEIJING (AFP) – Finland’s ice hockey team defeated its favorite Russian opponent in the tournament 2-1 on Sunday to win the final at the Beijing Olympics and claim the Olympic gold for the first time in the country’s history. The defending champion had to settle for the silver medal.

Finland celebrates a goal scored by Phil Boka in the men's ice hockey final against the Russian Olympic Committee at the Beijing Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022 (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong): BEIJING-MEN'S HOCKEY

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Beijing men’s hockey

Finland, which has never won in either men’s or women’s hockey at the Winter Olympics, prevailed without any NHL players. His last final match was in 2006, when he lost to Sweden. In 1988 he also received a silver medal.

After taking gold in 2018 as Russian Olympians, the Russians competed this time as the Russian Olympic Committee. Both categories were responding to doping penalties and cover-ups in various Olympic sports.

Regardless of the team’s name, the silver they won in Beijing was the 32nd men’s hockey medal they took.

Although the Russians looked like the new candidates after the NHL folded due to scheduling problems associated with the pandemic, the big winners were the Finns. With current NHL players such as captain Valtteri Filppula and striker Leo Komarov and defenders Sami Vatanen and Mikko Lehtonen, Finland had the firepower to go along with its distinguishing strengths: strong structure, defense and goalkeeper.

This combination helped Finland remain unbeaten after six matches, including a three-goal comeback to beat Sweden in the preliminary round. Finland defeated Sweden, Slovakia and Russia to win the tournament with effective play under veteran coach Jukka Jalonen.

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