Winter Olympics - Saku's speech sets up Finns

Reuters - Sun, 28 Feb 11:07:00 2010

With his team down 3-1 and Finland's men's ice hockey team 20 minutes away from bitter Olympic bronze medal disappointment, captain Saku Koivu had a simple message for his team mates: We can still win this.

Finland's captain Saku Koivu carries the Finnish flag during celebrations after defeating Slovakia in the men's ice hockey bronze medal game at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics - 0

Finland's players credited the veteran Koivu's locker room speech in the second intermission for helping spark a four-goal comeback in the third period against Slovakia to win the bronze medal 5-3 on Saturday.

"I said at that point in the game and that point in the tournament there's nothing you can do about what's happened, but you've got 20 minutes to change things around," Koivu said.

Finland had started out well in the first period taking a one-goal lead but then struggled badly in the second allowing three unanswered goals by Slovakia.

"(I said) you can think of these things for the next four years, or for some of these guys for the rest of their lives. So that was not the time to feel sorry for us ... go out there and do anything you can," Koivu said.

The locker room audience included Koivu's younger brother Mikko Koivu, a sibling combination that has been on Finland's team for two Olympics.

"He was saying we have a lot of time. Twenty minutes to go and we have to play the way we can," Mikko Koivu said.

For Saku Koivu the Vancouver Games put his personal medal count at four - one silver and three bronzes, a tally he shares with veteran team mates Jere Lehtinen and Ville Peltonen.

"For us this bronze is huge, and for the younger guys if we have done things to make it easier for them and make steps to become leaders of this team, then that's what it is all about," Saku Koivu said.

Follow the Winter Olympics 24/7 on British Eurosport (Sky 410 / Virgin 521) and Eurosport HD (Sky 412) British Eurosport channels are streamed online via the Eurosport Player.


Not already a Yahoo! user ? to get a free Yahoo! Account