With all the “proverbial” powerhouses in Vancouver, it is easy to forget Finland, but lets not forget the Finns were the winners of the 2006 Olympic silver medal.
Once again they come into another Olympics as one of the other teams, not mentioned with Canada, Russia, Sweden, and the US. They seem to get no respect, which is fine with them, they play with a nasty edge and every member of the team is and/or has played in the NHL.
First up for the Finns, Belarus.
Belarus should not be taken lightly; pulling several recent upsets in the Olympics and World Championships, including victories over Sweden and Russia. For Belarus, twelve players on the roster play for Dynamo Minsk in the Russian KHL, with only three skaters playing for NHL teams – Ruslan Salei, Sergei Kostitsyn, and Mikhail Grabovski.
The first period opened up with the Finns immediately dictating the pace of the game and getting shot after shot against goalie Vitali Koval (Belarus).
The scoring opened up when Olli Jokinen scored the first goal for Finland, with the assists going to Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu.
With the assist, Selanne, the 39-year-old Anaheim Ducks star in his fifth Winter Games is now tied with three other players as the Olympics’ career top scorer.
Belarus tried making its physical presence know, but the offense was nowhere to be found. Their first shot on goal came with 7:40 remaining in the first period.
Niklas Hagman made it 2-0 for the Finns with their second PP goal of the opening period.
The second period got a quick surprise as a turnover behind the net resulted in Belarus pulling within one with Sergei Kostitsyn getting the goal.
The Finns seemed to settle in during the second period, spending more time in the neutral zone, almost comfortable knowing they had a one goal lead.
Hagman closed out the scoring in the second period with a beautiful forehand, backhand, between the skates goal to put the Finns up 3-1.
The third period started as quickly as the second, 23 seconds in Valtteri Filppula (Detroit’s first Finnish player) lit the lamp to give the Finns a commanding 4-1 edge.
The final goal of the game was a nice redirect of a shot by Niko Kapanen by Jarkko Ruutu.
The Finns looked solid in their 5-1 victory, out shooting Belarus 45-12 (17-2 first period, 11-2 second period, and 17-8 third period).
Vitali Koval looked decent in net for Belarus, while Miikka Kiprusoff had an easier time only facing the twelve shots.
About the Author
Written by Matt Joseph