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VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- There's losing, and then there's humiliation. There are some very proud hockey players in Finland's dressing room, and Friday's 6-1 loss to the hands of Team USA in the semifinals of the men's Olympic hockey tournament left them nearly speechless.
"I really have no words. It's just unbelievable," veteran winger Teemu Selanne of the Anaheim Ducks said after the demoralizing effort.
"You don't get to play these games too often," said defenseman Kimmo Timonen of the Philadelphia Flyers. "Obviously, 6-0 in the first period, the game was over there. If I had an explanation of why that happened, I would give it to you, but I don't have it."
What's strange is it's not like this group of Finnish players to drop a stinker like this. Oh sure, they've lost plenty of games over the years, but they were almost always close affairs. It's their trademark. Down 6-0 12:46 into the first period? Not so much.
"I don't really know what happened," said Selanne. "Obviously, it's really disappointing. I've never been part of that kind of game before. It was something that you don't want to experience many times. When the game is over after 10 minutes, it's going to be a real tough day. I'm very disappointed we didn't even give ourselves a chance for the gold medal final. Losing is fine as long as you play your best game; but losing like this, it's tough."
Once it got to 6-0 so early in the game, "at that point, you wish it was curling so you could just give up," said Selanne (curling matches can be conceded early by the losing team in a rout).
But it's not time to give up yet. The Finns have a bronze-medal game to play Saturday night, and while some countries (ahem, Canada) can't seem to get up for the third-place game, the Finns always do. This is a tough tournament that's eight teams deep in talent, and a medal of any color is an achievement for any country.
"There's a bronze on the line tomorrow and it's all about bouncing back and trying to take what's left," said Selanne. "A bronze medal for this kind of tournament is huge. We have to remind ourselves it's not over yet."
For Selanne (it's definite) and buddy and captain Saku Koivu (likely), Saturday's game will be their last hurrah wearing Suomi colors in the Olympics. Wrapping it up with a bronze would mean a lot. Expect a better effort from the Finns.
"I hope I can smile tomorrow," said Selanne.