This morning at 3:00 a.m. Finland took on Austria in Men’s Ice Hockey. It was the first game of Group B in the 2014 Sochi Olympic games. It also featured complete domination by the Finnish squad. Finland won the game 8-4. The Philadelphia Flyers had two players in the game, defenseman Kimmo Timonen and winger Michael Raffl.
The Austrians came out of the gate ready to play. Only 36 seconds into the game Michael Grabner scored his first of three goals to give the Austrians a 1-0 lead. The goal was made possible by the tremendous board work of Michael Raffl, who earned the primary assist on the goal. Although the Finns tied the game a few minutes later, Austria took a 2-1 lead about halfway through the first period. After the second Austrian goal, Finland woke up. They closed out the first period leading 4-2. By the end of the second period they had a 6-2 lead and ended up winning the game 8-4.
Michael Grabner scored the final two Austrian goals to earn a hat trick. Unfortunately for him, the game was dominated by Finland. Finland out shot Austria 52-20 and had numerous breakaways and odd man rushes. The Finnish squad made crisp passes and picked the Austrian defense apart. Mikael Granlund was especially brilliant, scoring two goals and adding one assist. Austria had a few flashes of solid play in the third period, but those instances can be chalked up to laziness by the Finns who were dominating. As the announcers of the game continued to point out, it can be easy to lose focus when you are winning 6-2.
Although his team was on the receiving end of a beating, Raffl played a solid game. He had two assists and his play on the first shift was one of the best plays by an Austrian player during the entire game. Raffl skated for 15:45, the fifth most time of any Austrian player. In such a lopsided game, the Austrians were rolling all four lines, therefore, ice time was relatively balanced. Although praise will surely go to Michael Grabner for scoring three goals, Raffl was responsible for Grabner’s first goal and instrumental on his second goal. Raffl was also one of Austria’s key penalty killers. All in all, Raffl had a good showing in his first Olympic game.
The Finnish assistant captain played a solid all around game. His only point was an assist on the final goal of the game, but Timonen logged 17:31 of ice time while skating with Sami Vatanen. Finland rolled eight defensemen and four pairings, but Timonen was able to earn extra playing time because he is a key cog in the Finnish power play. In his usual fashion, Timonen made smart passes and made few mistakes. He may not have been especially flashy like some of his teammates, but Timonen had a solid showing.