Winter Olympics: Finland reach ice hockey q-finals with comeback win over Sweden

Finland beat local rivals Sweden 4-3 in overtime in a penalty-riddled Group C battle on Feb 13, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (REUTERS) - Finland mounted a stunning comeback to beat local rivals Sweden 4-3 in overtime in a penalty-riddled Group C battle on Sunday (Feb 13) to claim top spot and a place in the quarter-finals of the men's Beijing Olympics ice hockey tournament.

Trailing 3-0 heading into the third period, the Finns converted on back-to-back power play chances before a sneak under Swedish netminder Magnus Hellberg's leg levelled it for the Sochi bronze medallists and forward Harri Pesonen clinched the victory in overtime.

"When you are losing 3-0, it's not easy to come back, especially score three goals in a period, it's pretty nice to win the game in overtime," said Finnish forward Iiro Pakarinen, who recorded two of their three third-period goals.

"It's always like that against Sweden, it's always tight games. It's fun to play against a rival."

It was a stunning reversal of fortune after forward Markus Granlund was ejected from the match in the second period for elbowing a Swedish defenceman in the head as the Nordic neighbours renewed their fierce rivalry.

Tournament officials in Beijing said Granlund could face additional discipline.

Teen sensation

Earlier on Sunday, teenager Juraj Slafkovsky helped Slovakia to their first win with a 5-2 victory over Latvia.

The 17-year-old, widely expected to be one of the top picks in this year's National Hockey League (NHL) draft, scored his fourth goal of the tournament, accounting for half of Slovakia's total through the first three games.

"Before the tournament, if someone would tell (me) I would score even one or two goals, I would laugh but it is actually happening," said Slafkovsky, who is now the tournament's leading scorer.

"My line mates are playing really well and maybe they don't have the points but those little things on the ice they are doing are great."

The teams traded goals in a tight first period before forward Peter Cehlarik whipped the puck into the net to put Slovakia ahead in the second and Slafkovsky added to their advantage.

Latvia forward Miks Indrasis tipped the puck into the net early in the third period to reduce the deficit, but Slovakia then scored two more goals, including one into an empty net in the final second.

"I try to convince them that we can beat anybody," said head coach Craig Ramsay. "I believe we can beat anybody if we just play our game and play like a team."

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