In men’s Olympic hockey action, Russia beat the Czechs in their semifinal 3-0. That game featured two goals scored seconds apart and an empty net finisher, so the Russians did not dominate as expected.
In the second semifinal, Canada faced the surprise of the tournament in Germany. The biggest of underdogs had got this far by upsetting Switzerland in the qualifiers, roaring out to a two-goal lead over Sweden in the quarterfinals and then holding on to win it in overtime.
In the first period against Canada, Germany roared out to a one-goal lead. No big deal, right?
The second period for Canada was a disaster with mistakes compounded by violence and foolishness of all kinds.
Canada was self-sabotaging with a lot of penalties, and the second German goal was scored on a five-on-three after Rene Bourque was sent off on a faceoff violation, which is about the stupidest thing you can do down a man.
Germany made it 3-0 shortly after, and then Canada’s hopes were raised with a goal from Gilbert Brulé.
Germany answered back with a power play goal on yet another Canadian penalty, and then Brulé, the hero minutes before, laid a dirty hit to the head on David Wolf.
Canada killed off the five-minute major, but took another penalty to finish the period, and barely escaped down “only” 4-1 when Germany rang it off the post.
In the third period, Canada killed off the rest of the penalty and got a quick goal to make it 4-2. Canada handed the Germans a penalty shot chance, because they really wanted to lose it, but Kevin Poulin, in for the injured Ben Scrivens, held the line.
Germany took a lot of penalties, tried to draw some with diving, and they looked like they were trying to lose it for a while. Derek Roy made it 4-3 on a power play with 10 minutes left.
But that was it. Germany survived another Canadian power play, a period of four-on-four, and the game-ending flurry with Poulin pulled.
Germany is going to the final against Russia and has at least won a silver medal. This is an unprecedented miracle on ice, even allowing for the lack of NHL players at these Olympics.
For the bronze medal: Canada plays the Czech Republic tomorrow morning, Saturday, February 24 at 7:10 AM Toronto time.
For the gold medal: Russia plays Germany at 11:10 PM on Saturday night Toronto time.