The Finns, who beat their Scandinavian rival 3-2 in overtime on a goal by Karoliina Rantamaki, celebrated like they had won the Stanley Cup.
They stayed out on the ice for 15 or 20 minutes acknowledging the crowd and belting out their national anthem. True, they knew going in they would be playing for third place, but given the intensity of the Finland-Sweden rivalry — a regional Canada-Russia with more umlauts — it's easy to take it to heart. Finnish president Tarja Halonen was in the crowd, rocking a jersey. It also called to mind a Houston Chronicle article from today:
Because of the North American dominance, women’s hockey might not be long for the Olympics, and that’s a shame. We’re talking about the premier Winter Olympics team sport.
"That would be a shame," said Jim Craig, legendary goaltender of the 1980 U.S. men’s squad. "Women deserve the chance to play this great game. And they show such dedication. There is no NHL for them; they are truly playing for the love of the sport. I love it."
The topic has been exhausted over the past two weeks, but it seemed worth pointing out before the gold-medal game starts in about 15 minutes. The Finnish team provided a thrill. Perhaps Conan O'Brien, who's beloved in Finland, can throw some of his NBC severance toward helping the program. Just a suggestion.