The Finnish Lions have finally won their gold medal in the World Hockey Championships against Scandinavian archrivals Sweden.
Joy spread through the squad and to pubs and homes throughout Finland on Sunday as the final seconds ticked away to a 6-1 win over their Swedish neighbours. The occasion marks only the second time ever that Finland has taken the title in the event and is the country’s first reign in over a decade; the last Finnish championship title came in 1995 in an emotional victory, also against the Swedes.
The first goal came from Edmonton Oilers star Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, who is of Finnish decent, which put Tre Kroner on the board after almost 30 minutes of scoreless play in Bratislava, Slovakia. However, just seconds before the second period came to a close, Jarkko Immonen evened up the score and pushed the competition up to fever pitch.
The following two goals by Petteri Nokelainen and Niko Kapanen came within three minutes of one another and proved too much for a Swedish recovery. Additional goals came via Janne Pesonen and Mika Pyorala, as well as Antti Pihlstrom during the final minute.
The victory has prompted massive celebration among the Finns, as the nation hopes the championship is the first step on the ladder to match the eight titles held by Sweden. Finland has six silver medals, however, in addition to second place medals from the 1998 and 2006 Olympics.