Maatta, Jokinen thrilled by Finns' bronze
By Dejan Kovacevic
Published: Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014, 12:21 p.m.
SOCHI, Russia — Olli Maatta was the first of the Finns to have Olympic bronze draped around his neck Saturday, and he soaked in the moment. Beamed the broadest of smiles. Raised the accompanying flowers to the appreciative Russian crowd.
And how did that feel?
“It's pretty heavy,” Maatta said after he and Penguins teammate Jussi Jokinen scored to help Finland beat the United States, 5-0, at Bolshoy Ice Dome. “No, it's really heavy.”
The official listed weight of Sochi medals is 1.16 pounds, which does make for a bulky accessory. But it's safe to say he would prefer that to the alternative.
After Friday's semifinal loss to Sweden, this 19-year-old rookie of the Penguins and the Olympics appeared crestfallen. Especially because it was his turnover that gave the Swedes their start.
This was different.
“Turnovers happen. I don't feel like I played a bad game against Sweden,” Maatta said. “What happened happened. I got over it.
“This feels great right now.”
“I'm so happy to have this,” Jokinen said, reaching down for his medal.
Teemu Selanne and Jokinen scored 11 seconds apart early in the third period to send the Finns on their way.
American players cited that as a deflating point, and Jokinen wouldn't argue that.
“I think it's always tough on a team when you score quick goals like that,” Jokinen said. “Maybe it was.”
Finland's medal was its fifth in men's hockey in the past six Olympics, but it surely will be remembered more in that country for being Selanne's last. Selanne, the brilliant 43-year-old forward who has said he'll retire after this NHL season with the Anaheim Ducks, scored two goals to finish fourth on the Games' all-time list in that category and first with 43 points.
“It was something special,” Selanne said of the medal. “I'm so proud.”
Jokinen called Selanne “my idol” and added, “He's bigger than you can imagine back home, a great player and great person.”
Said Maatta: “For me, Teemu Selanne was someone I had only seen on TV. To come here, to be a teammate with him in his last Games, to see what he's like … it's just unbelievable.”
Dejan Kovacevic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @Dejan_Kovacevic.
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