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Finland claims first-ever hockey gold at Beijing Olympics

The Lions have previously won two silver and four bronze medals.

Leijonat juhlii
The Finns won the men's hockey gold in Beijing on Sunday. Image: Getty Images
Yle News

Finland won the men's Olympic ice hockey final on Sunday in Beijing, finally clinching a gold medal at the eighteenth attempt.

The team won Russia 2-1, with goals from Ville Pokka and Hannes Björninen.

"We have to be proud of what we've accomplished," coach Jukka Jalonen said after the game.

The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) took the silver medal and the bronze went to Slovakia.

The win brings Finland's medal haul to eight at the Beijing games, with Finland now ranked 15th in the table.

Yle sports commentator Ismo Lehkonen said the Lions' win was "colossal" to Finnish hockey.

The Olympic hockey tournament had started off in difficult fashion, with coach Jalonen complaining that his star forward Marko Anttila was stuck in quarantine for an extended period.

But Anttila was released and helped his team to some memorable wins. In the semi-final Finland had defeated Slovakia 2-0 thanks to goals from Sakari Manninen and Harri Pesonen.

Earlier in the tournament this team had come back from 3-0 down to defeat arch-rivals Sweden 4-3, sparking joyous celebrations from Finns.

In finally getting a gold medal they join the US, Canada, Sweden, the Soviet Union, Czech Republic, Great Britain, Olympic athletes from Russia and the Unified team representing the former Soviet countries in 1992.

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