Sheets of paper rained down like super-sized confetti on the bench, which players leapt off at full speed to pile on top of goaltender Harri Sateri with such force that they knocked the net off its moorings.
After finally accomplishing what so many Finland teams before were unable to do, there was plenty of strength to go around. Finland, known as Suomi in Finnish, is now synonymous with gold.
The Finns knocked off the favoured Russians 2-1 Sunday to win the men’s hockey tournament without NHL players at the Beijing Games, capturing an Olympic gold medal for the first time in the country’s history.
“We got what we came here for,” Finland defenceman Sami Vatanen said.
Finland had never won at the Olympics on the men’s or women’s side. It last reached the final in 2006 and lost to Sweden, matching the silver from 1988.
The defending champion Russians had to settle for silver instead of going back to back.
For the Russian hockey players, no matter the name, the silver in the men’s tournament was the 32nd medal the country’s athletes earned in Beijing. Just not the gold they expected.