Men's hockey powerhouse Canada couldn't make up a three-goal deficit to Olympic minnows Germany, losing 4-3 and crashing out of gold medal contention.
Canada, which won the last two Olympic gold medals, and nine overall, will have to settle for a trip to the bronze medal game, while Germany will take on the Olympic Atheltes from Russia in the gold medal game, after the Russians beat the Czech Republica 3-0.
Germany has only won two bronze medals in Olympic men's hockey, but this year's tournament is the first in two decades not to have NHL players, which changed the power dynamics in the tournament in Pyeongchang. Countries with more players in Europe's Kontinental Hockey League, based in Russia, suddenly had a better chance to win.
Nevertheless, Canada expected to be in the finals, and the loss to Germany was the second upset for Canada Hockey in as many days, following the women's shootout loss to the United States on Thursday.
Germany is the Cinderella story of these Olympics. The team is guaranteed at least a silver medal, which will be its best result ever and the country’s first in ice hockey since 1976.
The Germans were far from impressive in the preliminary round, barely eking out a single victory in overtime against winless Norway in their final group game. But they made it a habit in the knockout stages, beating Switzerland in overtime and doing the same to Sweden in the quarterfinals.
But they jumped out to a 3-0 lead over Canada, the third goal a second-period circus shot by Frank Mauer, who put his stick between his legs to deflect a centering pass on net.
Canada and Germany traded power play goals before Gilbert Brule injured a German player with a hit to the head. Canada killed off the ensuing five-minute power play, and carried momentum into the third period, where they scored two goals.
But despite playing two minutes with an extra attacker at the end of the game, they couldn't find a way past goalkeeper Danny aus den Birken, who stopped 28 shots in the win.( $__output )
The Russians will be highly favored in the final, as they play for the Olympic men's hockey gold medal for the first time in 20 years thanks to a 34-year-old goaltender on a roll.
Veteran goaltender Vasily Koshechkin stopped all 31 shots he faced to put the "Olympic Athletes from Russia" into the final with a 3-0 victory over the Czech Republic on Friday. Russia last reached the Olympic final in 1998 when it lost to the Czech Republic and hasn't won gold since 1992 when it played as the Unified Team.
"It would just mean everything to us," forward Mikhail Grigorenko said of trying to end the 26-year drought. "It's huge for us, for the players, for Russian hockey and the whole country."
Playing in front of raucous, flag-waving fans as they have all tournament, the favored Russians were not overly powerful but certainly as opportunistic as they were in a 4-0 victory over the United States in group play. They scored only twice on 19 shots against Czech goalie Pavel Francouz and Koshechkin did the rest.