Ex-Kings winger sends Finland to semifinals

Updated: September 6, 2004, 5:22 PM ET
Associated Press

HELSINKI, Finland -- Mikko Eloranta tipped a shot past Olaf Kolzig with 3:22 left, lifting Finland to a 2-1 win over Germany on Monday and into semifinals of the World Cup of Hockey.

"It was the biggest goal in my career, but hopefully there will be another even bigger goal," said Eloranta, one of only two players from the Finnish League on Finland's roster.

Defenseman Kimmo Timonen took a pass from Olli Jokinen and fired the shot from the point that Eloranta deflected just in front of the goal.

"I saw the puck coming all the way and deflected it. I had no idea where it went because I had my back to the goal," Eloranta said. ``But of course I knew where the cage was."

Finland, which finished atop the European pool after tying Sweden 4-4 in their round-robin finale, will play the winner of the game between the defending champion United States and Russia when the tournament moves to North America for the semifinals.

Sweden, which had as many points (five) as Finland but a lower goal difference in round-robin play, takes on the Czech Republic in Stockholm on Tuesday in the other European pool quarterfinal.

Finland dominated play in the first period, outshooting the winless Germans 10-3, but didn't take the lead until midway through the game.

With defenseman Andreas Renz off for a holding penalty, Niklas Hagman scored into an open net when Kolzig got caught out of position and ended up sprawling on the ice.

Marco Sturm tied the game 14 minutes into the third period when he got a wrist shot past Miikka Kiprusoff.

Janne Niinimaa, a defenseman for the New York Islanders, left the Finnish squad late Sunday after a dispute with head coach Raimo Summanen.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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