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Medal Man

Jokinen jets to bronze in Sochi

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Petr David Josek / The Assoicated Press
Jets forward and Finland force Olli Jokinen gets belted during Saturday�s 5-0 win over the United States. Jokinen should be back in Winnipeg shortly.

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Petr David Josek / The Assoicated Press Jets forward and Finland force Olli Jokinen gets belted during Saturday�s 5-0 win over the United States. Jokinen should be back in Winnipeg shortly.

It was an intense quest for gold, silver or bronze which began just a few weeks ago.

And only one of the four Winnipeg Jets Olympians -- Olli Jokinen of Finland -- is returning home with a precious medal.

Jokinen and his Finnish teammates spanked Blake Wheeler and the United States 5-0 in Saturday's bronze-medal game around the same time the Jets -- including Ondrej Pavelec and Michael Frolik of the Czech Republic, who had just returned from Sochi -- were practising at the MTS Iceplex.

"We wanted to win the bronze. We wanted to have something to be proud of," Jokinen told reporters in Sochi. "Everybody played well. It was a total team effort."

Jokinen, who has played in four Olympics, picked up his third medal on Saturday, along with the bronze he won in Vancouver in 2010 and silver in Turin in 2006. Asked if he was retiring from the national team, the 35-year-old wouldn't commit.

"I still plan to keep playing," he said. "After last Olympics I thought that was it, but I think I can still play four or five more years, so you never know."

Jokinen was solid in Russia, centering the country's No. 1 line between Jussi Jokinen and Tuomo Ruutu, and scored two goals, adding two assists.

After the bronze-medal game most of the attention was centered on the legendary Teemu Selanne, who scored twice in his last Olympic appearance.

"It's a great feeling," Jokinen said. "He's done so much for Finnish hockey. We were able to win one for him, same with (Kimmo) Timonen and (Sami) Salo. Those three guys have been doing so much for this country in international play, it's pretty amazing.

"You got a 43-year-old guy who scores two goals. The way he moves, who knows, maybe he'll be back in four years when he's 47. You never know."

Jokinen thought immediately of Selanne after the Finnish win, seeking out a memento to give his teammate.

"I took the puck after the game and gave it to him, and I think it's in his pants right now," said Jokinen. "At least he has the medal and the puck for a memory.

"He spoke before the game. He was saying, for the younger guys this is a once in a lifetime chance to win the medal, because there are no guarantees who is going to be here in four years and you don't want to throw these chances away. There is not many hockey players who are going to be able to say they have an Olympic medal in their office.

"Teemu wanted to make sure that the coaches, all the guys, knew that this was a once in a lifetime chance to win something.

"Yeah, we finished third, but we were able to beat Russia and we were able to beat the U.S. We won this bronze medal. We lost two games, two close games against the two teams that are in the final. Those countries deserve to be there, but after that we had the third place and we're very happy."

--with files from Gary Lawless

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 23, 2014 B8

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