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Finland wins Bronze, Their 4th Medal in last 5 Olympics

February 28, 2010 4 comments

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Team Slovakia was not given much of a chance to win coming into the Olympics, even though they have NHL superstars such as Marian Gaborik, Marian Hossa, and Zdeno Chara, so having a chance of winning the bronze medal, which would have been the first medal that the country had won in Olympic hockey, was very surprising to a lot of people, everyone except team Slovakia themselves who had already upset Russia, eliminated Sweden, and had given the Canadians a scare.

The Slovaks, who lost to the Americans in the semi finals, took the ice against the Finns, who lost to the Canadians in the semi finals, in the consolation game to win the bronze medal. The Finns, who won the silver in Torino and have three medals in the last four years, have a few NHL superstars of their own including Mikko and Saku Koivu, Teemu Selanne, Olli Jokinen, and goaltender Mikka Kiprusoff and they were looking for blood after being embarrassed by the Americans in the semi finals losing 6-1.

The Finns took an early 1-0 lead with a goal by Sammy Salo on the powerplay after a great hit by Mikko Koivu that prevented Slovak forward Michal Handzus from clearing the puck out of the defensive zone, Salo took the puck and blasted a slapshot passes Slovak goalie Jaroslav Halak. This score would stand for the first period but things started to open up in the second.

Marian Gaborik started the Slovak scoring in the second on a powerplay, ripping a wristshot passes Kiprusoff and knotting the game at one. Marian Hossa scored the next goal on a five – on – three powerplay collecting a loose puck in front of the net and burying it putting Slovakia up 2-1.

The turning point of the game was when Finnish forward Olli Jokinen was clipped in the side of the face with a stick, which was originally missed by the referee but not by the line judge who made the call at the next whistle. It was a four minute minor for high- sticking and it looked like the Finns were set to tie things up. That is, up until Salo decided to make a blind, behind the back pass to nobody. The puck was taken by Marian Hossa in open ice creating a two on one with teammate Pavol Demitra who accepted a beautiful saucer pass from Hossa and deflected it passed Kiprusoff making it 3-1 Slovakia.

With only a minute left in the period this score would carry over into the third but not for long as the Finns would score on the carry over four minute minor powerplay cutting the deficit to one. This is when Olli Jokinen, the player who was clipped and took exception to it, took over. He scored his first goal about a minute after the powerplay goal was scored on a wristshot that eluded the out of position Halak and a minute later he split the defense and skate din on a mini breakaway in which he slid the puck through Halak’s legs for which would eventually be the game winner.

The Slovaks made things interesting at the end of the third, as they did against Canada, but for the second straight game it proved to be too little too late as they fell to the Finns by the score of 5-3 after a lat empty net goal.

This is Finland’s fourth goal in the last five Olympics and they have silently made a reputation for themselves in international play, whereas the Slovaks, who were not expected to make it to any medal game, will have a solid team for years to come.

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