The 2022 Winter Olympics saw the semifinal round of the men’s ice hockey tournament come to a dramatic conclusion on Friday morning after two nail-biters determined that Finland and the Russian Olympic Committee will square off in the Gold Medal game on Saturday night.
Finland sealed a 2-0 victory over Slovakia on Friday night in what was a tight battle. Finland’s early 1-0 lead came from a goal by Sakari Manninen 4:02 into the game and proved to be the game-winner. With seconds remaining, Harri Pesonen secured the victory for Finland with an empty-net goal.
While Finland’s game was nothing short of exciting, ROC followed that bout up by coming away with a win against Sweden in a 2-1 shootout thriller. A pair of former Blackhawks in Lucas Wallmark and Joakim Nordstrom both found the back of the net for Sweden during the shootout. However, their efforts were not enough to come away victorious.
Russia’s men’s hockey team — which took home the Gold Medal in the 2018 Winter Olympics — will look to go back-to-back (albeit this time under the ROC banner, rather than “Olympic Athletes from Russia”). Friday night’s semifinal round set the stage for what is expected to be a close Gold Medal game, which should have hockey fans on the edge of their seat.
Finland vs. ROC
Saturday 2/19 at 10:10 p.m.
Although the Gold Medal game may not see a lot of scoring, that’s not to say it will be a low-event match-up. Finland and ROC mirror each other in being disciplined teams who stay out of the penalty box, take care of the puck and are sound positionally. Both have benefitted greatly from strong goaltending in this tournament, as well.
Russia’s team is primarily comprised of KHL players. However, Blackhawks fans may remember one friendly face from behind the bench, as ROC is coached by none other than former Chicago Captain, Alexi Zhamnov.
After an amazing shootout, I interviewed a victorious Alexi Zhamnov. Said I lived in Chicago and he told me to tell Chicago hi. So, he says hi, everyone.— Leila Rahimi (@leilarahimi) February 18, 2022
Finland swept their way to the championship round going 4-0-0 — with one win in overtime — awarding them 8 points. ROC heads into Saturday night’s game with a record of 2-1-1, lending them 7 points by tournament scoring standards. This one-point discrepancy had lead Draft Kings Sports Book to name Finland a slight favorite at -125 odds. However, they are not expected to cover the -1.5 puck line, nor is the game expected to go over the line set at 4.5.
What does this all mean, exactly?
Fans can expect a close game, featuring sound goaltending and solid defense. Even though Finland is considered the favorite, it’s a razor-thin margin. One or two goals could be enough to take home the Gold. It may be the truest cliche in the book: the team that makes the least amount of mistakes in this game will likely come out victorious.
Once again, here is the start time for the Gold Medal Game (CST):
ROC vs. Finland | Saturday 2/19 at 10:10 p.m.
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