OT goal brings Finland women’s bronze

Associated Press / February 26, 2010

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Karoliina Rantamaki scored when her pass was kicked into Sweden’s net 2:33 into overtime, and Finland won the bronze medal in women’s hockey with a 3-2 victory yesterday.

Heidi Pelttari and Michelle Karvinen also scored for Finland, which also won bronze at the 1998 Nagano Games.

Noora Raty stopped 16 shots for the Finns, but Rantamaki ended a tight game with a fortunate bounce on a cross-ice pass from the corner. The puck apparently deflected off a Swedish player trying to stop Saara Tuominen as she drove the net.

“I knew if I got it in front, we would score,’’ said Rantamaki. “It’s really unbelievable, a great feeling right now. I still can’t believe it. It’s been a long time. I waited 12 years. It was so long that I waited.’’

Sara Grahn made 21 saves in a surprise start ahead of Swedish goalie Kim Martin, a three-time Olympian and the star of Sweden’s upset of the US team four years ago. Martin gave up 19 goals in her last two games against the sport’s North American powers.

Danijela Rundqvist tied it early in the third period for Sweden, and Maria Rooth also scored. Sweden will head home without a medal after winning bronze in Salt Lake City (2002) and silver in Turin (2006).

Finland had scored only seven goals in the Olympics, with none in its last two games, before getting just enough to beat its closest rivals.

Norway’s men’s curling team and its popular, gaudy, diamond-print trousers will meet Canada in the gold-medal match after beating Switzerland, 7-5, in the semifinals yesterday.

Canada, trying to become the first Olympic curling team to go unbeaten since the sport returned as a medal event in 1998, earned its own spot in the final by beating Sweden, 6-3.

Canada wrapped it up in the middle of the final end when Sweden didn’t have enough rocks left to rally. The crowd began chanting “We want Norway!’’ as the host country’s next opponent put away the Swiss.

In the final, thousands of the Canadians’ cowbell-clanging, anthem-singing, flag-waving countrymen will fill the seats to see if Kevin Martin, known as the “Old Bear,’’ can put an exclamation point on an amazing career.

Canada won its semifinal the way it has all the others here - with consistent shot-making in the clutch and by letting the opponent make mistakes.

Pavol Demitra scored one of Slovakia’s three second-period goals, and his speedy team held on to beat the slow Swedes, 4-3, Wednesday night, advancing to the semifinals while eliminating the defending champions. Jaroslav Halak stopped Nicklas Lidstrom’s final shot. The Slovaks will face Canada tonight for a spot in the gold-medal game.