Russian Athletes vs. Germany Gold-Medal Game Winner, Highlights and Reaction
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The Olympic Athletes from Russia defeated a resilient underdog in Germany 4-3 in overtime Sunday to win the men’s hockey gold medal at the 2018 Olympic Games.
The back-and-forth match was worthy of an Olympic final. Germany held a 3-2 lead deep into the third period, but a blistering equalizer from Nikita Gusev with just 55 seconds left in the game forced extra time. Kirill Kaprizov slashed home the game-winner just under 10 minutes into overtime to deliver the Russian Athletes the victory.
Here’s the winning goal, per NBC Olympics:
The Olympic Athletes from Russia struck #gold with this gorgeous one-timer! #OARvsGER https://t.co/snOfK8WaVF https://t.co/isfp9SlsnR
Though they let the game slip away at the end, a silver medal is still a remarkable, historic result for the Germans. They stunned heavy favorites in Canada 4-3 in the semifinal to book a spot in the gold-medal game. Germany did not qualify for the 2014 Winter Games, and the country had never finished higher than a bronze medal, which they won at both the 1928 and 1976 Olympics.
The victory brought plenty of joy to the Russian athletes despite the lack of NHL players participating in this tournament and their inability to officially compete for their home country due to sanctions following a major doping scandal.
“When you play for your country and I win this medal, this special time it’s more important,” said 39-year-old captain Pavel Datsyuk, per the Associated Press (h/t ESPN.com). “I have accomplished my dream. Now I have no dream.”
So happy were the Russians that they and their fans at the Gangneung Hockey Centre belted out their banned national anthem at the medal ceremony, per Reuters’ Dan Burns and Steve Keating. According to Ilya Kovalchuk, they had planned in advance to sing the anthem, a violation of International Olympic Committee rules.
The game was certainly the kind the players will relish winning due to its pressure-packed, high-intensity nature. The contest was tied 1-1 entering the third period thanks to goals from Slava Voynov—who scored with under a second remaining in the first period—and Germany’s Felix Schutz.
Julio Cortez/Associated Press
Russia retook the lead with a little more than six minutes left in the game thanks to Gusev, who banged in a shot off the mask of goaltender Danny aus den Birken. The 2-1 lead was incredibly short-lived, as Germany answered back just seconds later thanks to a blistering slapshot from Dominik Kahun.
Three minutes later, Germany looked like it might have a miracle on its hands. A brilliant hesitation move by 21-year-old Jonas Muller sent Datsyuk and Russian goaltender Vasili Koshechkin sprawling to the ice, and Muller cooly slotted the puck home to make the score 3-2. Former NHL player Bruno Gervais was impressed by Muller:
WOWOWOWOW!!!! The young gun of the @Eisbaeren_B , Jonas Muller with ice in his veins! What a move! hang on Deutschland!
Germany wasn’t able to hang on for victory, however. Russia ended up short-handed with about two minutes to go, but they pulled Koshechkin to get back to 5-on-5 out on the ice. Gusev then made what will become a very famous goal in Russia, going top shelf to beat Aus den Birken from a close shot on the left side, nearly the exact same spot from which he had scored his earlier goal.
NBC Olympics caught the celebration just after the tying goal:
OAR TIES IT UP WITH LESS THAN A MINUTE TO GO IN THE #GOLD MEDAL GAME! #OARvsGER https://t.co/fdrMAuycNg
Germany couldn’t capitalize at the end of the game, which set up overtime and Kaprizov’s power-play winner, which delivered Russia (though unofficially) their first gold medal in men’s hockey since 1992.
The win for the Russian Athletes will likely serve as a balm for what has been a rocky Olympics, with dozens of athletes appealing to get into the Winter Games just days before they started, and athletes from the country turning up with new doping violations during the Games themselves.
It wasn’t quite the happy ending that Germany was likely hoping for after their momentous upset of Canada, but a silver medal is a fine result for a country that doesn’t have a proud tradition of winning hockey.