It wasn't exactly the game many bettors in North America wanted to see, but there's still an Olympic Gold medal at stake when Finland plays Russia on Saturday at the Beijing Winter Olympics.
Surprisingly, the Finns have never taken the top step on the podium in Olympic competition, while their Russian rivals (dating back to the days of the USSR) have won as many Olympic titles in men’s hockey as anyone. Russia, the defending champion, is aiming for its 8th gold medal.
The Finns lost to the U.S.A. in famous 1980 in the game that clinched the gold for the Americans. Finland also won silver in 1988 in 2006.
The Soviet Union (USSR) won seven gold medals in men’s Olympic hockey, the Unified Team won one, and the Olympic Athletes from Russia won in 2018. Add all that up, and that’s nine gold medals for Russian hockey in various forms — the which is the same number as Canada.
Note the Russians are competing this year as Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) because Russia’s name and flag were banned as part of the fallout from the country’s doping scandal.
Given the history, it might be shocking to discover Finland is a slight favorite over the Russians. At Spreads.ca, the Finns are -125 versus the Russians who are even money to win gold. Here's a partial screen shot. Many other wagering options are available:
OPINION (courtesy of Pointspreads.ca):
It's tough to bet against history. Much as many hockey fans would love to see Finland win an Olympic gold medal, getting the Russians (ROC) at even money is about as great a price as you will find in amateur athletics.
Take the Russians if you decide to make a bet.
Also Note: The bronze medal game between Sweden and Slovakia is also scheduled for Saturday. The Swedes are -152 favourites.
Oh, and while we're promoting Olympic ice hockey, hats off to the gold medal-winning Canadian Women Team!