The Olympics Athletes from Russia advanced to the final of the men's ice hockey final at the 2018 Winter Olympics after they defeated the Czech Republic 3-0 on Friday in PyeongChang.
Nikita Gusev and Vladislav Gavrikov tallied almost back to back nets in the second period and put the Russians in the lead, and then Ilya Kovalchuk put the final nail in the coffin by slotting the puck into an empty net late on in the contest.
But, Kovalchuk did more than just score an empty-netter... And the Czech players will remember this. Their bench was left incensed when Kovalchuk received only a two-minute penalty for a knee on Jan Kolar, forcing the latter off the ice and out of the match:
Fans and experts were too outraged that he did not get a major on the incident. But the man himself was simply happy to make it to the final, saying his crew completely deserve their shot at the gold medal.
“We are here for one reason,” Kovalchuk said after the game. “And I think we deserve to be in the final.”
The International Ice Hockey Federation might think differently on Kovalchuk deserving to take part in the final game. After the contest, Kontinental Hockey League and European hockey reporter and expert Aivis Kalniņš revealed that the IIHF will take a look at his knee on Kolar, and a suspension could ensue from their review.
Imagine the controversy and the Russian's best player of the tournament watches the final game from the gallery. Since the start of the Olympics, Kovalchuk has tallied 14 goals so far, and has shown the National Hockey League that he still has lots in the tank.
Kovalchuk walked out on the New Jersey Devils in 2013 with 12 years and $77 million remaining on his contract, opting to return to Russia with KHL club SKA St. Petersburg. He left the NHL with 816 points from as many games with the Devils and Atlanta Thrashers.
"I still have some gas left in my tank, so I hope I score some more," he said during the tournament.
Now, let's wait and see if he will be able to use what he has in that tank for the Gold Medal game.