The closing day of the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea’s PyeongChang entered the history of the Russian Olympic ice hockey with the team of neutral athletes from Russia edging the team from Germany 4-3 in the overtime of the match for the gold medal on Sunday.
The match for the 2018 PyeongChang ice hockey gold at the 10,000-seat capacity Gangneung Hockey Center was the first Olympic final in 20 years for the team from Russia, which lost the gold medal game to the Czech Republic at the 1998 Winter Games in Japan’s Nagano.
However, this was the first ever final in the history of the German Olympic ice hockey team. Germany’s best Olympic results in ice hockey were the bronze at the 1932 Winter Games in Lake Placid, the United States, and another bronze at the 1976 Olympics in Austria’s Innsbruck.
With just 15 seconds into the match, Russia’s Sergei Andronov received a two-minute penalty for tripping, giving Germany an opportunity of testing the Russian defense on the power play. However, the Germans failed to unpack the goal of the Russian team, solidly guarded by goalkeeper Vasily Koshechkin.
The Russian players, who participated in the 2018 Olympics under the neutral status flying the colors of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) flag, also did not use an opportunity to score on the power play with little over eight minutes remaining in the opening period, when German defender Christian Ehrhoff was sent to the penalty booth for hooking.
The first period was about to end scoreless, but with only half a second left before the break, Russia’s Vyacheslav Voinov cannoned a puck almost from the blue line into the left upper corner of the net behind German goalkeeper Danny aus den Birken to open the score at 1-0.
Russia’s neutral ice hockey squad began the 2018 Olympic tournament with the 2-3 defeat at the hands of Slovakia, but then gained a solid track roaming on the main time victories in all the matches up to today’s final.
The German team, on the other hand, began their Olympic campaign with two defeats in a row, but later regained control clinching to victories in other games before the play-off round, which caused what could be called a sensation in the Olympic history of ice hockey.
The Germans faced renowned Sweden in the quarterfinals and stunned the Tre Kronor with 4-3 win. Going later in the semifinals, Germany routed the 2010 and 2014 Olympic Champions Canada with the same winning score of 4-3.
This is why Team Germany were not expected to give up easily on the Red Machine and they answered to tie the score at 1-1 in the middle of the second period, when forward Felix Schutz delivered a strong shot from the right wing and the puck ricocheted off Koshechkin’s glove tumbling into the Russian goal.
The scored goal heated up the game of both teams with an exchange of intensive attacks on each side, but the score of 1-1 remained flashing unaltered on the scoreboard as both teams retreated to locker rooms for the break before the closing period.
"We need to play a simple game as we are now overcautious," Russia’s Sergei Andronov said after the second period. "We need to calm down and try not to give up the game."
The closing 20-minute stretch of the game was scoreless for the most of the time, but with over seven minutes of the game time left, Russia’s Nikita Gusev scored a goal into the German net at a sharp angle from the left wing.
But while the Russian ice hockey fans were still cheering loudly at the stadium’s spectator stands in PyeongChang celebrating the goal, it took Germany only ten seconds to respond and to tie the score again with a goal from forward Dominik Kahun.
Several minutes later, German defenseman Jonas Muller put another puck into the Russian net to give his team the 3-2 advantage over the Red Machine and to silence the disappointed Russian fans.
The game for the team from Russia went further for the worse as its player Sergei Kalinin was placed in a penalty booth giving Germany a two-minute advantage on the power play.
With an absence of one field player on the ice, the squad from Russia managed to switch from the defense to the offensive burst, which saw Nikita Gusev packing the net of the German team with another puck to tie the score at 3-3 on the last minute, sending the game for the Olympic gold to the overtime.
Ten minutes in the overtime, Germany’s Patrick Reimer was handed a penalty for high sticking and gave a two-minute advantage of five against four field players for the Red Machine.
Russia’s Kirill Kaprizov was there to utilize the opportunity and sent the victorious goal in the German net from the right wing to bring his team the much coveted Olympic gold.
The team of athletes from Russia, including the country’s ice hockey players, took part in the 23rd Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang under the neutral status.
Late last year, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) suspended the membership of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) over doping abuse allegations but allowed clean Russian athletes to participate in the 2018 Winter Games under the Olympic flag and in the neutral status of an Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR).