Finland Olympics Hockey

Olympic Hockey: Niklas Hagman, Finland Take Care Of Belarus, 5-1

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Teemu Selanne Ties Olympic Record

Finland followed in the footsteps of the Russians and Canadians opening their tournament with a convincing (5-1) win over Belarus that saw them outshoot their opposition by a count of 45-12. Olli Jokinen, Valtteri Filppula and Jarkko Ruutu all found the score-sheet while Niklas Hagman added two goals.

With an assist on Jokinen’s goal, Teemu Selanne tied the Olympic record for the most points in the modern era (from the 1956 Games and beyond) held by Czechoslovakia’s Vlastimil Bubnik, Russia’s Valeri Kharlamov and Canada’s Harry Watson. Selanne has 20 goals and 36 points now having competed in five Olympic competitions.

Teammate Saku Koivu posted an assist and is two shy from tying the Olympic record for career helpers which is also Kharlamov’s at 22. Five goals from Selanne would tie him for the goal-scoring record of 25 held by Sweden’s Sven “Tumba” Johansson.

The 39-year-old is participating in the Olympics likely for the last time and is doing it with a plastic face guard after breaking his jaw with the Anaheim Ducks only to heal ahead of schedule to represent Team Finland. With a gold medal first and individual accomplishments second on his agenda, nothing could stop Selanne from competing again internationally in 2010.

And for a player who scored 76 goals as an NHL rookie, surpassing records is nothing new for the Finnish Flash.

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Olympic Hockey: Niklas Hagman, Finland Take Care Of Belarus, 5-1

For a while, it seemed like Belarus might hang around, giving Finland a flashback of horrors to the 2002 Games. It was then that little Belarus, a former Soviet republic where a young girls' strange exotic journey to Minsk took place, stunned Sweden in the quarterfinals of the Olympic tournament with a one goal victory.

An Olli Jokinen goal gave the Finns an early lead and Niklas Hagman scored late in the first to make it a two goal cushion. But just 21 seconds into the second, Sergei Kostitsyn of the Montreal Canadiens made the score 2-1. Momentum swing. Ut oh.

Luckily, though, the Finns still had Hagman lurking around, and with about three minutes left in the second, he put another one by Belarusian goaltender Vitali Koval to make it 3-1. That opened the flood gates, and in the third the Finns came out and scored two more to put away the pesky little unknown nation with just two current NHL players on their roster.

Belarus may have had a better fate if they didn't take so many penalties in this one. They were running around for most of the game, laying down a ton of body checks. But they crossed the line a few too many times and took some penalties as a result. It also didn't help that the Finns were in their end for almost the entire game as evidenced by the final shot total -- 45 to 12 in favor of Finland.

Still, by hanging on for most of the game, Belarus proved that with a hot goaltender and an opportunistic offense, these small nations can hang with the big guns in the tourna

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