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Finland Stuns Canada, 3-2, to Win Bronze Medal

By Mike Nadel
Associated Press
Saturday, February 21, 1998; 3:48 a.m. EST

NAGANO, Japan — Favored to win the Olympic men's hockey gold medal, Canada will go home with no medal at all.

Finland won the bronze medal Saturday, defeating the Canadians 3-2 on Ville Peltonen's tiebreaking goal 17 seconds into the third period and Ari Sulander's 32-save performance.

Despite playing without top player Teemu Selanne, who had a minor knee injury, Finland (3-3) was able to capture its second consecutive bronze and third medal in the last four Olympics.

The Canadians (4-2) were shut out after winning the silver in 1992 and 1994. Canada, which considers hockey its game, was a solid pick to win its first gold since 1952 — thanks to a lineup filled with NHL all-stars in this inaugural Olympic tournament to feature the world's best players.

But it lost to the Czech Republic in a shootout Friday and couldn't beat the Finns even though it had a 34-15 advantage in shots.

Finland's victory means that all three teams favored to win medals — Canada, the United States and defending-champion Sweden — failed. Russia and the Czech Republic play for the gold medal Sunday.

Peltonen, one of nine non-NHL players on Finland's roster, scored the winner on a wrist shot from the left circle that went into the net off the chest of Patrick Roy.

Jari Kurri and Jere Lehtinen also scored for Finland, while Rod Brind'Amour and Brendan Shanahan had Canada's goals.

Wayne Gretzky, who finally got to play in the Olympics and announced that this likely will be his last international competition, assisted on Shanahan's goal. The NHL's all-time scorer, Gretzky finished the tournament with four assists and no goals.

Finland also won the bronze medal in the first Olympic women's hockey tournament.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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