The “Miracle On Ice,” in which Team USA pulled off a stunning 4-3 upset over hockey powerhouse Team USSR (now known as the Russian Federation) took place 34 years ago today. That win vaulted the upstart Americans into the gold medal game against Finland, with them prevailing 4-2 after trailing 2-1 entering the third period.
Flash forward to the present day and no gold medal would be found. No miracles would be found either.
After both teams skated to a scoreless first period, Finland came out with a burst in the second, scoring two early goals in :11 seconds, powering the Finns to a 5-0 win in Saturday’s bronze medal game. The contest was viewed as a battle between the two best goalies in the NHL in the USA’s Jonathan Quick and Finland’s Tuuka Rask, but the Americans never recovered from the quick assault.
Entering the medal round, Team USA led all nations in goals scored with an astounding 15. They followed that up with an impressive 5-2 win over the Czech Republic. However, when the competition became stiffer, the American offense disappeared.
The past 24 hours have been stange for the upstart Americans, who returned 13 players from the 2010 team in Vancouver. A 1-0 loss to neighbor and rival Canada in the semifinals was definitely disappointing, but any Olympic hockey medal can be worn with honor and dignity. The Finns simply wanted it more
The 43-year old “Finnish Flash,” Teemu Selanne, who plays for the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks, was remarkable in his sixth and final Olympic Games. He’s widely considered to be one of the classiest athletes in any team sport and closed his Olympic career in storybook fashion, netting two goals. He was definitely the most consistent player for the Finns during the tournament. The bronze gives Finland just its fifth overall medal of the 2014 Games, but is perhaps their most rewarding.
Finland earns the distinction of being the first country to win four Olympic medals since NHL players were allowed to participate in 1998. Selanne also becomes the first individual to win four Olympic hockey medals in the history of the games.
After an 18-day break, the NHL will resume play on Feb. 25 as the Carolina Hurricanes will square off against the Buffalo Sabres in a matchup of two teams near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings.
Selanne will reunite with Team USA’s Cam Fowler, one of his Ducks teammates. They look to continue their success post-Olympics as the Ducks sit atop the league standing with 87 points, a seven-point lead over the San Jose Sharks in the Pacific Division.
Quick looks to recharge his Los Angeles Kings, who are currently third in the Pacific Division with a disappointing 68 points. Rask returns home to Boston, where his Boston Bruins are in first place in the Atlantic Division with 78 points.
V. Corey Greenleaf is a contributing writer for RantSports.com. Find him on Facebook.