GANGNEUNG, South Korea, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Finland beat South Korea 5-2 on Tuesday to reach the men’s Olympic ice hockey quarter-finals as the hosts bowed out of the tournament after a spirited performance in their final game.
Finland opened a commanding lead near the game’s halfway point but the South Koreans battled back, closing to within a goal to give the Finns, ranked fourth in the world versus the hosts’ 21st, a genuine scare.
Finland went ahead on the powerplay five minutes into the first period, Petri Kontiola rifling the puck into the upper corner of the net.
They increased the lead to three on a second goal from Kontiola and another from Miro Heiskanen in the second period before the Koreans got into gear.
Brock Radunske, a Canadian who came to South Korea a decade ago, got his first Olympic goal when Mikko Koskinen coughed up a big rebound and he snuck it between the goaltender’s legs before Ahn Jin-Hui fired a hard wrist shot into the net.
The Finns regrouped midway through the third period when Juuso Hietanen forced the puck past a sprawling Matt Dalton less than 20 seconds into a man advantage.
The Koreans pulled their goaltender for an extra attacker with time expiring and Finland’s Sakari Manninen dribbled in an empty-net goal.
Finland next face Canada on in the quarter-finals on Wednesday while South Korea exited the tournament having lost four straight games.
At the end of the game, the Korean team skated around the ice carrying South Korean flags to rousing applause from the home crowd. They formed a line in front of their bench and bowed to a visibly emotional head coach Jim Paek.
Tuesday also marked the end of the Olympic road for the Korean unified women’s hockey team who lost 6-1 to Sweden. (Reporting by Dan Burns, editing by Ed Osmond)