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Finns handle U.S., win yet another men’s hockey medal

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All Finland does at Olympic hockey tournaments is win medals.

On Saturday, the Finns became the first nation to medal four times since NHLers began participating 16 years ago, trouncing the Americans 5-0 at the Bolshoy Ice Dome in the bronze medal game.

After a scoreless opening period, Finland broke out early in the second when Teemu Selanne scored the first of his two goals just 1:27 into the frame. Jussi Jokinen scored 11 seconds later to give the Finns a 2-0 lead, and they broke the game wide open in the third period with three goals in a seven-minute span from Jusso Hietanen, Selanne (again — his fourth of the tournament) and Olli Maata.

Tuukka Rask, back in goal after missing Saturday’s semifinal loss to Sweden with illness, stopped all 27 shots faced for his first shutout of these Olympics.

As mentioned above, the win caps off a remarkable 16-year stretch for the Finns: bronze at Nagano ’98, silver at Turin ’06, bronze at Vancouver ’10 and bronze once again in Sochi. The Finnish performance at this tournament was very impressive, especially considering the team was ravaged by injury — Minnesota captain Mikko Koivu and Tampa Bay’s Valtteri Filppula were ruled out by injury just prior to the start of the Games, and Florida rookie Aleksander Barkov was shelved during the group stage following a knee ailment.

For the Americans, though, Saturday was a massive disappointment.

After losing 1-0 to Canada in the semis on Friday, head coach Dan Bylsma said the goal was to come home with a bronze medal. But the U.S. never got its game on track against the Finns, exhibited by Patrick Kane missing a pair of penalty shots. The Americans also failed to score for the second game in a row, a startling reversal of fortune given they scored 20 goals over their first four games of the tournament, often looking like a dynamic offensive force.

U.S. goalie Jonathan Quick was on the hook for all five Finnish goals, making 24 saves in the loss.

Watch profile of Kyle Snyder, youngest American to win wrestling World title

Kyle Snyder
AP
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Kyle Snyder, who became the youngest American to win a World Wrestling Championship on Sept. 11, had planned to redshirt his sophomore year at Ohio State to focus on training for the Rio Olympics.

But Snyder is back wrestling for the Buckeyes this season.

Why?

“Kyle wants to help the team win the national title,” Ohio State coach Tom Ryan said. “It doesn’t hurt Kyle’s chances to make the Olympic team. We meet. He jumps on it.”

The announcement that Snyder would wrestle this season was made at 12:01 a.m. on New Year’s Day.

Learn more about Snyder in an NBC Columbus affiliate profile.

MORE WRESTLING: Burroughs says he’s ‘on Mount Rushmore’

Lydia Ko: Olympics are top priority this year

Lydia Ko
AP
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CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) — Top-ranked golfer Lydia Ko says the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro will be her top priority this year.

Ko, who will defend her New Zealand Open title from Friday, said there was “so much excitement and vibe” around the Olympic tournament, “especially as it’s the first time women will play at the Olympics in golf.”

The 18-year-old New Zealander said “ever since they announced that golf will be in the Olympics I said, ‘Hey, I want to get myself on that team.’ For any athlete to say you’re an Olympian is a whole new proud feeling, and to represent your country on such an international stage it’s going to be a pretty special week.”

The 54-hole New Zealand Open at the Clearwater Golf Club is co-sanctioned by the Ladies European Tour and Australian Ladies PGA.

MORE: Inbee Park criticizes Olympic golf