Finland Women Win Bronze

     Minnesota Duluth captain Saara Tuominen assisted on the winning overtime goal Thursday afternoon as Finland defeated Sweden for the Winter Olympic women’s bronze medal. Here’s an Associated Press story:

By GREG BEACHAM, AP Sports Writer

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Karoliina Rantamaki scored 2:33 into overtime, and Finland beat Sweden 3-2 Thursday to win bronze medals in Olympic women’s hockey.

Heidi Pelttari and Michelle Karvinen also scored for Finland, which hadn’t won a medal since women’s hockey’s first joined the Olympics in 1998.

Noora Raty stopped 16 shots for the Finns, but Rantamaki ended a tight game with a fortunate bounce on a remarkable cross-ice pass from the corner. The puck apparently deflected off a Swedish player trying to stop Saara Tuominen as she drove the net.

Sara Grahn made 21 saves in a surprise start ahead of Swedish goalie Kim Martin, a three-time Olympian and the star of Sweden’s upset of the U.S. team four years ago. Martin gave up 19 goals in her last two games against the sport’s North American powers, and Swedish coach Peter Elander went with his 21-year-old backup.

Danijela Rundqvist tied it early in the third period for Sweden, and Maria Rooth also scored. Sweden will head home without a medal after winning bronze in Salt Lake City and silver in Turin.

Sweden and Finland clearly were the best of the rest in Vancouver, as they’ve been in most international tournaments in the past 10 years. Sweden beat fifth-place Switzerland 3-0 in the Olympics’ opening match, and Finland survived a tough preliminary-round game against China to reach the medal round.

Finland had scored only seven goals in the Olympics, with none in its last two games, before getting just enough to beat its closest rivals.

It was a strange Olympic sight to see Sweden’s Martin on the bench, her hair pulled back in an unfamiliar ponytail, holding open the bench door instead of stopping pucks. Martin appeared upbeat, visibly encouraging Grahn each time they were close together.

After 24 scoreless minutes, Finland finally connected on a quick shot by Pelttari, the standout defenseman.

Then it got chippy: Swedish hothead Katarina Timglas, who punched Canada’s Meaghan Mikkelson in the face last week, popped Raty in the shoulder while fighting with Finland’s Michelle Karvinen for a rebound. Raty knocked Timglas back with her glove, but the Swede recovered and punched Raty in the mask before they were separated.

Rooth evened it shortly afterward with an impressive deflection of Isabelle Jordansson’s shot from the point, but Karvinen put the Finns back ahead with an impressive individual play, turning the corner on Jordansson and skating in on Grahn for her first goal of the tournament.

     But Rundqvist tied it again during a power play with 14:51 to play, dropping to her knees to swat home a rebound of her own shot.

 

Finland President Tarja Halonen wore a Finnish jersey and waved the blue-and-white flag while watching from a luxury box. She even got on the public-address system to lead a cheer late in the third period.


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