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Olympics-Ice hockey-Finland’s Anttila completes rough journey to Beijing gold – Metro US

Olympics-Ice hockey-Finland’s Anttila completes rough journey to Beijing gold

Victory Ceremony – Ice Hockey – Men’s Gold Medal
Victory Ceremony – Ice Hockey – Men’s Gold Medal

BEIJING (Reuters) – Finland’s journey to the ice hockey gold in Beijing has been a long one, but that of Marko Anttila has been especially tough as the veteran spent six days in isolation before helping his team win their maiden Olympic title.

Anttila tested positive for COVID-19 upon his arrival in Beijing and head coach Jukka Jalonen hit out at the Games organisers for “not respecting his human rights”.

Anttila missed Finland’s first game but was released in time for the second, where he scored two goals, after an isolation period during which his team said he did not get enough food.

Sunday’s gold medal, after a 2-1 win against the Russian Olympic Committee, therefore had a special flavour to Anttila, a ninth round pick of the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2004 NHL draft.

“It was boring and frustrating because I wanted to be able to play here. I got lucky to get out of there early,” alternate captain Anttila told reporters.

“I wanted to show that I could be a big player here.”

The 36-year-old did just that on Sunday, assisting Hannes Bjorninnen on the winning goal as Finland rallied from 1-0 down to prevail 2-1.

“I was far away from playing the final here when I was in isolation but I made it here and put the fire on.”

Anttila was Finland’s team captain when they won their third world championships title, having scored the only goal against Russia in the semi-final and a double in their 3-1 final win against Canada.

“It’s a dream come true,” he said.

“There was a lot of time to think, it was not easy. I really wanted to be here and just play hockey.”

Anttila did more than ‘just play hockey’ on Sunday, according to team captain Valtteri Filppula.

“It seems like the bigger the game, the better he plays. He’s impressive to watch, he’s a great team mate all around. Like I said he’s big when it matters,” he said.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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