Without the National Hockey Leagues elite stars in the Olympics this year, the door has been opened for younger talent to emerge and steal the spotlight.
Finland’s Eeli Tolvanen did just that.
The 18-year-old center registered a goal and three assists in his Olympic debut to help his team defeat Germany 5-2 at the Gangneung Ice Centre in PyeongChang.
Finland opened the scoring with a power-play goal when Sami Lepisto netted home a sweet feed from Eeli Tolvanen at 16:47 of the first period.
Germany’s Brooks Macek had a quick response and leveled the score at 1-1 as he ripped a one-timer past Finland’s goaltender Mikko Koskinen. Christian Ehrhoff picked up an assist on Macek’s tally.
With the game knotted at one, Finland played much more aggressive in the later half of the opening period.
Mika Pyorala took advantage of a Christian Ehrhoff turnover and beat German netminder Danny Aus Den birken to give the Fins a 2-1 lead.
Eeli Tolvanen, who had been ice cold over the last few months in the KHL, found the back of the net early in the second period. The 30th overall pick from the 2017 NHL entry draft (drafted by the Nashville Predators) cashed in on the power play to extend Finland’s lead to 3-1.
His confidence only grew as the game went on.
Finland lit the lamp only 1:21 after Tolvanen netted his first. This time it was Lasse Kukkonen with the tally off an incredible set up by Tolvanen. Finland’s captain snapped a 75-game goalless streak on the international stage.
Frank Hordler cut Germany’s deficit in half when he found twine early in the third period.
However, any hope for a German comeback was slashed when Jonas Kemppainen tapped in a highlight-worthy feed from Tovanen late in the third period to secure the win for Finland.
Finland resumes play on 2/16 at 7:10a.m. with a faceoff against Norway.