GANGNEUNG, South Korea (Reuters) – Russian ice hockey players sang their national anthem after clinching the gold medal in overtime against Germany at the Winter Games on Sunday, despite the anthem being banned as punishment for a years-long Russian doping scandal.
Russia, competing as neutral athletes at Pyeongchang, scored in overtime through Kirill Kaprizov for a 4-3 victory in one of the most surprising finals in the history of the Olympic men’s ice hockey tournament.
Later, at the medal ceremony, the winning team sang the Russian anthem over the sound of the Olympic anthem at the hockey arena, despite being barred by Olympic authorities from having their flag raised or anthem played.
With Germany’s Patrick Reimer off for high sticking midway through the extra period, the Olympic Athletes from Russia went on a four-on-three man advantage and Kaprizov one-timed a pass from Nikita Gusev past German goaltender Danny aus den Birken.
The OAR found themselves evenly matched by a German team that had surprised the hockey world by making it to their first Olympic final. The Germans won silver, their best finish ever in Olympic ice hockey.
Both teams scored twice in a back-and-forth third period with Nikita Gusev knotting the game with a short-handed goal with less than a minute to go to force the overtime period.
The Russians hit the ice hours after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided not to restore their delegation’s Olympic status, which would have enabled them to march under their flag at the closing ceremony later on Sunday. [nL4N1QF015]
As the OAR players received their gold medals on the ice, the Olympic flag was raised in place of the Russian flag and the Olympic anthem was played. But the players, arms around each other, sang the Russian anthem instead.
Singing the Russian anthem on the field of play is a violation of the IOC’s rules on neutrality, which were imposed on Russia as part of sanctions punishing the nation over systematic doping across many sports.
On paper the final shouldn’t have been a fair fight but the Germans skated evenly with the OAR.
Loaded with top home-grown talent from Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League, seen as the world’s second-best league after the NHL, and led by ex-NHL all stars Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk, the OAR finally edged past a team that had punched above its weight.
Aside from Kaprizov with the game winner, Gusev was the other hero for the OAR, scoring two third-period goals and getting an assist to become the tournament’s points leader.
(Reporting by Dan Burns; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)