Lots of goals, laughs in U.S. romp

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VANCOUVER - There were almost as many one-liners as there were American goals in the first period of Friday’s men’s hockey semifinal between the U.S. and Finland.

Like, “Is the Finnish hockey federation going to apologize for the men’s team drinking beer and smoking cigars before the game?”

In a wild dozen minutes to start the game, the Americans scored six times on their way to a 6-1 win over Finland to advance to Sunday’s gold-medal game.

That led to this tweet from the consistently amusing @DownGoesBrown: “Were the fans doing the wave, or did somebody just say ‘Raise your hand if you could score on Kiprusoff today?’”

Six-one. That’s not a hockey game, it’s a tennis set — Federer against somebody.

A Finnish meltdown, or “Suomi hyytti,” as they would put it.

Maybe the Americans let up after jumping out to that 6-0 lead because they didn’t want the IOC talking about kicking men’s hockey out of the Winter Games over a lack of competition.

Even the players were getting into it.

What was it like, American goaltender Ryan Miller was asked, when you’re watching and it’s just bang-bang-bang?

“You forgot a few bangs,” Miller said. “It was one of the best games I’ve seen in the tournament because I got to watch most of it.”

Things unravelled quickly for the Finns after goalie Miikka Kiprusoff muffed a pass up the ice two minutes into the game, putting the puck right on the stick of American Ryan Malone, who had an empty net.

“It was a real bad pass,” said Kiprusoff, who faced the media and the music after the game and didn’t flinch (somewhere, you hope Alexander Ovechkin was watching). “I always have to take a second look before making a pass like that. I gave it tape-to-tape for the USA player.”

Zach Parise on a powerplay, Erik Johnson on a powerplay, Patrick Kane, Kane again, Paul Stastny ...

“It was a crazy 12 minutes to be a part of,” Kane said, “I’ve never been a part of something like that, where it seemed like we were scoring every shift, which was pretty amazing.”

“It’s 2-0 and a couple of mistakes, 4-0, 6-0,” said crestfallen Finnish star Teemu Selanne. “At that point you hope we played curling where you can just give up and you don’t have to put yourself on the line anymore. At this level, you can’t bounce back like that.”

Johnson was asked if he was surprised Kiprusoff wasn’t pulled after he scored to make it 3-0.

“It was a great goal,” he said, “why would they pull him?”

Finnish blue-liner Sami Salo admitted his squad made a lot of mistakes and the first goal was especially disheartening.

“But we can’t blame Miikka at all,” he said. “We as defenceman and the forwards didn’t give him any help at all. I don’t think any goalie would have stopped any of those goals they scored.

“I’m disappointed we left Miikka by himself. We just have to redeem ourselves (Saturday).”

So, at least the Finns still have something. There’s the bronze-medal game Saturday, a chance to wash off the stink of a brutal game.

“I hope we can smile (Saturday). There’s a bronze on the line,” said Selanne, who will play his last Olympic game.

“It’s all about bouncing back and taking what’s left. We have to remind ourselves it’s not over.”

On Friday, though, it was over before it even started.

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca


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