FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Sunday, February 23, 2014
GLENDALE, ARIZONA – The Phoenix Coyotes had three players win medals at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Mike Smith won the gold medal with Canada; Oliver Ekman-Larsson captured silver with Sweden; and Lauri Korpikoski won bronze with Finland. The Coyotes’ three medal winners are their most in Phoenix history and second-most in franchise history.
Smith became the first Coyote to win an Olympic gold medal. The 31-year-old native of Kingston, Ontario was also the first goaltender in franchise history to represent Canada at the Winter Olympics.
Ekman-Larsson finished his first Olympics with 0-3-3 and a plus-four rating in six games for Sweden. The 22-year-old Karlskrona, Sweden native skated in 7:19 and took nine shifts in the gold medal game against Canada. Ekman-Larsson is the second player in franchise history to win an Olympic silver medal and the first since 1988.
Korpikoski, who was also participating in his first Olympics, registered 2-2-4 with a plus-three rating in six games for Finland. The 27-year-old Turku, Finland native recorded 0-2-2 to help Finland defeat the United States, 5-0, in the bronze medal game.
Coyotes forward Martin Hanzal and defenseman Zbynek Michalek represented the Czech Republic and were eliminated in the quarter-finals.
NOTE: Click here to see the final stats for the five Coyotes at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Canada defeated Sweden, 3-0, on Sunday in the gold medal game at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
|Photo by Getty Images.|
Coyotes goalie Mike Smith, who is Canada’s third-string netminder, earned a gold medal at his first Olympics. Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, also a first-time Olympics participant, earned a silver medal playing for Sweden.
Smith did not dress for Sunday’s game. Ekman-Larsson did not play in the first two periods but played 7:19 in the third period as Sweden attempted to rally from a 2-0 deficit after the first 40 minutes.
Smith did not get into a game for Canada at the Olympics; he served as backup to Roberto Luongo in one game, on Feb. 14 when the Canadians beat Austria, 6-0, in the preliminary round.
Before the Olympics, Smith said the Canadians knew they were the favorites to repeat as Olympic champs.
"The expectation is (to win) a gold medal,” Smith said. “Anything else is a failure. That pressure is fun to be a part of. I think everyone expects us to win gold. It's gotten a lot harder over the years with how good everyone else has gotten and kind of caught up to Canada in a sense, but that makes it that much more fun.”
Ekman-Larsson played in five of Sweden’s six games and finished with three assists. Ekman-Larsson also won a silver medal for Sweden at the IIHF World Championship in 2011. In 2010, he won a bronze medal at both the IIHF World Junior Championship and IIHF World Championship.
CANADA vs. SWEDEN
When: Sunday 5 a.m. MT (NBC)
Where: Bolshoy Ice Dome
What's at stake: Canada is trying to become the first nation to repeat as Olympic champion since the Soviet Union won in 1984 and '88 (the Unified Team, made up of much of the former USSR, also won in 1992).
Sweden, which won in 2006, is aiming for its second gold medal in eight years. Each nation is coming off a one-goal victory against a major rival in its semifinal game.
What’s next: One team will go home happy, one will leave disappointed. But by late in the week, all will be back with their club teams.
|Photo by Getty Images.|
Korpikoski, who played 17:14, assisted on Finland’s first goal, scored by Teemu Selanne at 1:27 of the second period and Finland’s fourth goal, scored by Selanne at 9:06 of the third period.
The bronze medal is Korpikoski’s first Olympic medal. In 2006, Korpikoski, 27, won a bronze medal with Finland at the IIHF World Junior Championship.
Korpikoski played in all six games for Finland at these Olympics, his first, and finished with two goals and two assists.
Before the Olympics, Korpikoski said he liked Finland’s chances to win a medal in Sochi:
"Our goaltending is good. All three goalies can play. I think chemistry is another thing. I think we have some guys that have played together before. We don’t have really big names in there but we have some solid players that can play good on both sides of the puck. So I think the key for us is to find some scoring. We don’t have a lot of scorers but if we get some scoring, some guys that are having a good tournament offensively, that will help us and then we just play good defense. That’s kind of the way a team can always have success."
Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said Korpikoski impressed him at the Olympics.
"It was a real positive experience for him," Tippett said. "Hopefully he brings that confidence back."
UNITED STATES vs. FINLAND
When: Saturday, 8 a.m. MT (NBCSN, CBC)
Where: Bolshoy Arena.
Note: Coyotes forward Lauri Korpikoski will play for Finland. He is playing at the Olympics for the first time/seeking his first Olympic medal.
What's at stake: The United States and Finland have the opportunity to make the long trip to Sochi a bit more memorable by taking home some hardware.
A win by the U.S. would be the men's team's first Olympic hockey medal won outside North America since capturing silver at the 1972 Sapporo Olympics.
The Finns haven't won Olympic gold since the NHL began sending players in 1998, but they have won some kind of medal three times in the past four Olympics.
What's next: The winning team will get its medal Sunday after Canada and Sweden play for the gold medal. The players and coaches from the losing team will immediately return to their NHL or club teams.
GLENDALE – The Coyotes practiced for about an hour on Friday but not until after they watched the Olympic semifinal game between the United States and Canada together as a group in the player lounge inside Jobing.com Arena.
Canada won 1-0 to advance to the Gold Medal Game against Sweden, which beat Finland, 2-1, in the other semifinal on Friday.
“It was fun because there was some pretty tense moments there in a close game, which we all expected it to be,” said forward Kyle Chipchura, one of the team’s proud Canadians. “There was jabbing back and forth (with the American Coyotes), but for the most part it was lot of fun to have a few guys cheering for the U.S. and a few guys cheering for Canada in the same room.”
Captain Shane Doan, who played for Canada’s Olympic team in 2006, said he, too, enjoyed watching the game with teammates.
“Everyone was having fun ribbing everybody,” Doan said. “It’s always fun to watch with friends. Everybody enjoys it more.”
Defenseman Chris Summers, an American, also liked the viewing party.
“There’s not too many of us (Americans) so we have to stick together,” Summers said. “… Even the Europeans (on the team) were cheering for Canada so we were kind of outnumbered. But it was a good matchup for sure.”
Head Coach Dave Tippett watched the game (away from the players) and was impressed by how Canada shut down the high-scoring U.S. team.
“I thought it was a very good hockey game and I thought the team that deserved to win won,” said Tippett, who played for Canada at the 1984 Olympics and again at the 1992 Olympics. “I thought Canada carried a big portion of the play and I thought Canada’s defense was really strong and (Carey) Price made saves when he needed to.”
Defenseman Keith Yandle, whom many observers believed should have been picked to play for the U.S. team, said he only watched a little bit of Friday’s game – at the beginning and then the end with teammates.
“It’s (been) a tough couple days for the Americans… but I think the U.S. is doing pretty good in the medal count,” Yandle said, in reference to the Americans losing to Canada in men’s and women’s hockey in Sochi.
|Photo by Norm Hall.|
Sweden will play Canada for the gold medal on Sunday at 5 a.m. (Arizona time) on NBC.
Ekman-Larsson has notched three assists and a plus-5 rating in five games at the Olympics. He is averaging 10:12 of ice time per game. He dressed but did not play in Sweden’s 2-1 win over Finland in Friday’s semifinal.
Smith, Canada’s third-string goalie, has yet to play at the Games.
Meanwhile, Coyotes forward Lauri Korpikoski and his Finnish teammates will play the United States for the bronze medal on Saturday at 8 a.m. (Arizona time) on NBC Sports Network.
Korpikoski played 16:03 and took two shots on goal in Friday’s 2-1 semifinal loss to Finland.
"Both teams played really tight," said Korpikoski, according to USA Today. "We both played a pretty smart game on the big ice. You can’t run around too much. There was a really high tempo, but the game was played really tight defensively – both ways. There weren’t a lot of chances there."
Korpikoski has notched two goals and a plus-2 rating in five games at the Olympics. He is averaging 16:06 of ice time per game.
|Photo by Getty Images.|
Carey Price stopped all 31 shots he faced as Canada defeated the United States, 1-0, on Friday in a semifinal match at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Coyotes goalie Mike Smith is on Canada’s roster but he did not dress for this game. Roberto Luongo served as Price’s backup.
With the win, Canada advances to the gold-medal game on Sunday and will play Sweden.
With the loss, the United States will play in the bronze-medal game on Saturday against Coyotes forward Lauri Korpikoski and his Finland teammates.
Sweden defeated Finland, 2-1, on Friday in a semifinal match at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
|Photo by Getty Images.|
Coyotes forward Lauri Korpikoski played 16:03 and took two shots on goal for Finland.
Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson dressed for the game but did not play for Sweden. Ekman-Larsson's ice time has been reduced significantly since Alexander Edler of the Vancouver Canucks returned to the lineup after finishing a suspension that carried over from the 2013 World Championship.
With the win, Sweden advances to the gold-medal game on Sunday when it will play the winner of the United States vs. Canada semifinal.
With the loss, Finland will play in the bronze-medal game on Saturday against the loser of the United States vs. Canada semifinal.
Day 11 (Friday, February 21):
|Photo by Getty Images.|
On Canada’s win over the United States in the women’s gold medal game on Thursday: “I was shocked that Canada came back to win it. Everybody here (at Canada’s after-game party) really enjoyed themselves until early in the morning at the arena.”
On the Sweden vs. Finland semifinal game on Friday: “I think the surprising story today is Oliver Ekman-Larsson of the Phoenix Coyotes, considered one of the best defenseman in the League, has not been on the ice for a single shift. I don’t know what’s going on. Hopefully the coach is saving him until the third period. Maybe he’s the secret weapon.”
On the Canada vs. United States semifinal game on Friday: “I can’t wait. I’ve watched every one of these Canada/U.S. games since Salt Lake City (in 2002) and hockey doesn’t get any better than what’s going to happen tonight… I think the U.S. has to just keep playing their game. Their forwards are working and their goalie is working and the ‘D’ is working. If they keep playing their game like they’ve been playing all week they’re going to win this (game).”
AUDIO: Listen to Gosbee's report on 98.7 FM from Friday morning.