Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Bronzed Hovi Blog In Canada

That, folks, is what a bronze medal hug looks like. Venla Hovi and Team Finland earned the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic bronze medal in women's ice hockey today with a thrilling 3-2 victory over the Olympic Athletes from Russia, and this writer's favorite Finn played a part in that victory today! Before we get to playing said part, I have to admit that the Finns played one helluva tournament. They may have fallen short on their goal of bumping one of Canada or the US out of the gold medal, but they still come home with hardware - an incredible achievement for all the players and staff at the games and for the entire country of Finland!

Finland got things started early when Minnamari Tuominen backhanded the puck from the top of the point and Petra Nieminen redirected her shot past Nadezhda Morozova while on the power-play for the 1-0 just 2:21 into the game!
The 19 year-old Petra Nieminen has been outstanding for the Finns all tournament long, and she gave her side the early lead with that deflection. As a selfish aside, how good would Nieminen look in Manitoba Bisons colours? I'm not sure what her intentions are next season or in the future, but Nieminen as a Bison sounds like a great idea. Anyway, where were we? Oh yeah, Finland leads 1-0.

Ten seconds into the second period, Finland made it 2-0 when Michelle Karvinen looked like she was going to circle the net, but fed a pass to Susanna Tapani in the slot who dented twine behind Morozova!
Karvinen, who had an outstanding NCAA career with The School Who Cut Her Program, has always performed well on the big stage. Tapani's goal, however, set a new Olympic women's hockey record as her goal at the ten-second mark is now the fastest goal to be scored after the start of a period! The old record was 19 seconds, and it was set on February 17, 2010 by Slovakia's Janka Culikova in the third period of a 5-2 loss to Switzerland. Congratulations, Susanna on adding your name to a little Olympic lore!

Russia would reply two-and-a-half minutes later when Olga Sosina made it a 2-1 game as she found room past Noora Raty, but a couple of successful penalty kills following the Russian goal seem to re-energize the Finns. At 12:18 of the second period, they would restore that two-goal lead as Venla Hovi and Linda Valimaki got in on the action!
Hovi spotted a streaking Valimaki down the left wing and her with a beautiful pass in stride, and Valimaki drove the net on the backhand and beat Morozova to make it 3-1 for the Finns! Honestly, that's the play-making ability of Venla Hovi we've come to know and love in Manitoba, and her and Valimaki made that play look seamless!

Lyudmila Belyakova would cut the lead to 3-2 on a power-play at the 6:03 mark, and it was some nervous times for both teams as the game progressed. Isa Rahunen was called for an illegal hit with five minutes to play, and it appeared that this would be the break that Russia needed to even this game. However, Anna Shohkina committed a high-sticking infraction just 18 seconds later, and that killed the advantage for Russia. As time ticked away, the clock became Russia's enemy, and it was one they could not defeat!
Congratulations to Team Finland on returning to the podium with an inspired, determined win today! Four years of hard work following a disappointing fifth-place finish in Sochi has paid off with the bronze medal today. While they may not have beaten Canada or the US to get into that gold medal game, there is nothing to regret for these women who laid their hearts on the line, sacrificed for four long years, and came together like true champions. That's what the Olympic spirit is about, and I cannot be happier for Venla Hovi and her teammates!

Venla finished the tournament with a goal and two assists in six games, but she certainly did us proud here in Manitoba. The University of Manitoba Bisons forward still has another major tournament to look forward to as her teammates in Winnipeg are playing in the Canada West semi-final this weekend against Alberta with a berth to the Canada West championship game against either UBC or Sasakatchewan on the line as well as a U SPORTS National Championship invitation on the line! We hope to see Venla back soon after her success in Pyeongchang to not only help the Bisons win, but to celebrate her achievement at the Olympics!

Congratulations, Team Finland, on your bronze medal and your outstanding tournament!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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