TURIN (Reuters) - Saku Koivu had a goal and an assist and Antero Niittymaki made 21 saves as Finland shutout Russia 4-0 in Olympic men's hockey on Friday, setting the stage for an unexpected all-Nordic gold medal final.
Finland, who have never won Olympic hockey gold, will face off against their bitter sporting rivals Sweden on Sunday in a golden showdown that is sure to ignite Nordic passions.
The Swedes eased past the Czech Republic 7-3, to earn their first appearance in the final since claiming their only Olympic title at the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Games.
Russia, who knocked out defending gold medallist Canada in the quarter-finals, will play the Czech Republic for the bronze medal on Saturday.
www.NPR.orggot blogs, galleries, updates and whatnot about the Olympics so check it out.
"Russia's goalie Maxim Solokov looks back at the rink after his team's 4-0 loss to Finland in the Men's Ice Hockey semi-finals at the Turin 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin, Italy, Friday, Feb. 24, 2006. Finland will play Sweden in the gold medal game on Sunday.(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)"
Another article with several snips I thought to be interested:
"The combined population of Finland and Sweden is less than metropolitan New York City, yet they will play for the gold while the big boys - Canada, the United States, Russia and the Czechs - all sit out."
"Russia, which has gotten a medal in all but one Olympic men's tournament since 1956, now must beat the Czechs to match the bronze they won in Salt Lake City."
"Finland and Sweden last played in the medal round in 1998, a 2-1 victory by Finland in the quarterfinals of the first Olympics with mostly NHL players. Finland has never won a gold - Sweden did in 1994 - but did get the silver in 1988."
Now is Finland's turn, indeed!