Finland Beats ROC for 1st Gold Medal Ever in Men’s Hockey at 2022 Winter Olympics

Finland Beats ROC for 1st Gold Medal Ever in Men’s Hockey at 2022 Winter Olympics

AP Photo/Matt Slocum

The Finnish men’s ice hockey team won its first-ever gold medal at the Olympics with a 2-1 victory over the Russian Olympic Committee on Saturday (Sunday in Beijing) at National Indoor Stadium.

NBC Olympics @NBCOlympics

For the first time ever, Finland takes GOLD in Olympic men’s hockey!#WinterOlympics pic.twitter.com/TZ7SAKRp4S

Finland entered the gold-medal game as the only undefeated country in the men’s hockey event, but the win is still stunning, as the ROC was widely expected to win gold at this year’s Winter Games with NHL players not participating in the tournament.

Before the 2022 Games, Finland’s best result at the Olympics was a silver medal, which it won in 1988 and 2006. With the win, the Finns prevented the ROC from capturing its second straight gold medal. The Olympic Athletes from Russia won gold at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games.

Here’s how the game played out.

Finland began Saturday’s game in a hole early when Hannes Bjorninen was called for a high-sticking penalty. The ROC capitalized on the opportunity as Mikhail Grigorenko found the back of the net at the 7:17 mark of the first period for his first goal of the Olympics. 

NBC Olympics @NBCOlympics

The first goal of the gold medal game!

Mikhail Grigorenko gives the ROC an early jump over Finland.#WinterOlympics
📺 : @USA_Network and @peacockTV
💻 : https://t.co/DaRR18atEa pic.twitter.com/jQ1Z0goetJ

It took Finland until the 3:28 mark of the second period to respond on the scoresheet. Ville Pokka took a shot from along the boards that somehow made its way past ROC goaltender Ivan Fedotov to tie the game 1-1. It was Pokka’s first goal and third point of the Winter Games. 

NBC Olympics @NBCOlympics

Finland TIES IT!

Early in the second, the ROC and Finland are knotted at one.#WinterOlympics
📺 : @USA_Network and @peacockTV
💻 : https://t.co/DaRR18atEa pic.twitter.com/fSJ6B9IKoy

The Finns carried that momentum into the third period, and it was Bjorninen who made up for his first-period penalty with a tally just 31 seconds into the final frame to give his country a 2-1 lead. He deflected a Marko Anttila shot past Fedotov for his first goal and second point of the Olympics.

NBC Olympics @NBCOlympics

IS TODAY THE DAY FOR FINLAND!?

Finland, searching for its first ever gold medal in men’s hockey, takes a 2-1 lead in the third period!#WinterOlympics
📺 : @USA_Network and @peacockTV
💻 : https://t.co/DaRR18atEa pic.twitter.com/BvgSep5SMg

Finland dominated play both on and off the puck on Saturday night. In addition to outshooting ROC 31-17, the Finns prevented the opposing team from getting much off the rush. 

Finland’s best players throughout the Olympics were Harri Pesonen, Teemu Hartikainen, Mikko Lehtonen, Sakari Manninen and Miro Aaltonen. Hartikainen (two goals, five assists) and Manninen (four goals, three assists) both had seven points in this year’s Winter Games, which put them in a four-way tie for first. 

It was an awe-inspiring run for the Finns, and it’s something the country should be proud of, even with the lack of NHL players at the tournament. The country went 3-0 in preliminary-round play with wins over Slovakia, Latvia and Sweden before clinching a berth in the semifinals with a 5-1 quarterfinal win over Switzerland.

The Finns clinched a berth in the gold-medal game with a 2-0 win over Slovakia in the semifinals.

They’ll now look to repeat at the 2026 Games, hopefully with a roster full of NHL players. 

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