Finland took the final medal of Beijing 2022, winning the nation's first ever Winter Olympic ice hockey gold with a narrow felling of defending champions the ROC.
The Finns became world champions for a third time in 2019 but had never won Olympic gold, twice reaching the deciding game in 1988 and 2006 but falling short.
But a powerhouse side, capitalising on the absence of the NHL stars, controlled the final, with Hannes Bjorninen atoning for an early, costly stint in the penalty box with the winner just 30 seconds into the last period.
Beijing 2022
Pure Olympics - Ice Hockey
24/02/2022 AT 15:34
It was a composed, mature showing from Finland, controlling the encounter throughout and forcing Russian goaltender Ivan Fedotov to bat away several efforts.
They began poorly, committing the first major offence of the game in the opening period, with Bjorninen picked out for a high stick while attacking.
That allowed ROC to capitalise in the powerplay period, efficiently transferring the puck around the Finnish defence and manipulating an angle for Mikhail Grigorenko to rifle home from inside the right penalty circle.
Finland equalised soon after the resumption. After some sharp stick work came to little as the Finnish team looked hither and thither for an opening, Ville Pokka released a speculative shot for goal. Betwixt two pairs of tangled legs it scuttled, with an unsighted Fedotov beaten between his pads.
The rest of the second period was characterised by promising bursts from the Finns, shifting the puck with delightful touches but ultimately unable to beat Fedotov again. Frustrations threatened to boil over at the second interval, but the referees quickly dispersed the players, sending them off the ice with the score at one apiece and Fedotov holding firm.
But it took just 31 seconds after the players re-emerged for the ROC goalie to be beaten. The puck travelled around the back of the goal and back out to the blue line, from where it was directed goalwards by Bjorninen, whose flicked shot evaded Fedotov's grasp.
Finland began to shut the game down, aided when Sergei Andronov was sent to the penalty box for tripping with eight minutes to play.
As a desperate last-ditch dice roll, Fedotov was withdrawn to get five potential scorers on the ice, but Finland stole the ball in the final seconds to spark wild celebrations, goaltender Harri Sateri mobbed by his teammates after a gold which will mean so much to one of ice hockey's "Big Six", and certainly to veteran coach Jukka Jalonen.
Slovakia had won men's ice hockey bronze with a comfortable win over Sweden on Saturday.
Finland's victory closes the competitive action in China, with Norway confirmed to top the medal table with 16 golds, followed by Germany and hosts China.
A defence of their ice hockey crown would have lifted ROC above Austria and Switzerland; silver leaves the Russian athletes in ninth.
- - -
The Olympic Games will return with Paris 2024, live on Eurosport and discovery+.
Beijing 2022
‘That did not take long!’ – Bjorninen bags winner as Finland stun ROC to win gold
20/02/2022 AT 09:02
Beijing 2022
Slovakia ease to bronze medal in men's ice hockey with 4-0 win over Sweden
19/02/2022 AT 15:32