Most of the U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team had not yet reached the locker room when shots of Finland posing for their victory photo flashed on television screens backstage.
The U.S. players – the very same ones that showed flashes of greatness throughout the tournament – hardly noticed. In the wake of defeat Saturday night one word came through repeatedly.
"Frustrating," said Patrick Kane, "to say the least."
Finland scored two goals in 11 seconds to pave the way towards a 5-0 victory against Team USA for the bronze medal in the men's ice hockey tournament at Bolshoy Ice Dome.
A tournament that began with immense promise ended in frustrating fashion for a U.S. team considered one the most impressive squads on ice at the Sochi Games.
The group that was best known for its team chemistry and sharp combinations fell subject to a series of bad bounces.
Kane received two penalty shots but went wide on the first attempt 13:40 into the first period when the puck rolled as he reached the goalmouth. Kane was awarded a second penalty shot 6:24 into the second period after he was slashed on a breakaway by Finnish forward Leo Komarov. He fired off what appeared to be a successful shot until the puck clanged off the goal post.
Moreover, Kane appeared to have scored a goal in the last 10 seconds of the second period. A play review showed the puck had in fact curved out around the side of the net.
"It was a frustrating night," Kane said. "Probably one of the most frustrating games I've been a part of."
Finnish forward Teemu Selanne broke scoring 1:27 into the second period and teammate Jussi Jokinen made it 2-0 for Finland 11 seconds later.
After that, said U.S. team captain Zach Parise, the team started to lose what made it a force for most of the tournament.
"We got frustrated. We started trying to beat guys one-on-one," Parise said. "We just kind of stopped playing that team game that got us to where we are."
The third period saw Finnish defensemen Juuso Hietanen and Olli Maatta add to the final score and Selanne pocket a second goal.
Despite having lost to Canada 1-0 Friday in another frustrating game of opportune chances but limited success, the U.S. entered the bronze-medal game as the top scoring team. Team USA had outscored its opponents 20-6 prior to the semifinal, while Finland had put up 11 more goals than its competition in previous games.
"USA had maybe the best team in this tournament," said Finnish head coach Errka Westerlund after the game. "They play very well together and it wasn't an easy game tonight […] we had our moment but we think USA as a team is the best in this tournament."
While Team USA's glorious rise to gold at the 1980 Games is well documented for the "Miracle on Ice" against the USSR, it was the defeat of the Finnish in the final game of the tournament that gave the U.S. its second all-time title. The U.S. last defeated Finland 6-1 in the semifinal of the Vancouver 2010 Games.
"We talked about getting refocused and going after this game and going after to win this bronze medal but that didn't happen for our team," Bylsma said.
"It was an honor and a privilege to represent our country.