Athletes of Finland celebrate winning during the awarding ceremony after the ice hockey men's gold medal game of Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics between Finland and ROC at National Indoor Stadium in Beijing, capital of China, Feb. 20, 2022. (Xinhua/Meng Yongmin)
Finland edged past defending champion the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) 2-1 to get its first-ever Olympic ice hockey gold medal at Beijing 2022 in the men's final on Sunday.
Before the final, Finland, the second in the world rankings, has never won an Olympic gold medal since it entered the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) family during the Olympics in St. Moritz in 1928, and it got two silver medals at Turin 2006 and Calgary 1988. The U.S. and Canada split the seven women's titles since the women's program made its debut in 1998.
World No. 3 ROC edged past Germany 4-3 in overtime at Pyeongchang 2018, and it fell 3-1 to Finland in the quarterfinals at Sochi 2014.
27-year-old Russian forward Mikhail Grigorenko put the puck into the net to break the deadlock at 7:17 in the power play, before Finland struck back with an equalizer at 23:28 by 27-year-old defender Ville Pokka.
Finland's forward Hannes Bjorninen scored at 40:31 to seal the victory.
"Ice hockey is a big thing in Finland, and we have come close a couple of times and it is finally nice to get the first one. I thought we played a great tournament and this is the reward," said Valterri Filppula, the captain of Finland.
"I'm so proud of this team, we didn't lose a single game in this tournament, and we're so tough to beat. What a great group of guys." Finland's forward Harri Pesonen said.
"There are so many good players, even though the North American guys weren't here. But you can see so many talents all over Europe, so there are tough games, a lot of physical games in this tournament," he added.
The Finns won all five games before the final, and defeated Slovakia 2-0 in the semifinals, while the Russians edged past Sweden 2-1 in the shootout to reach the final.