SOCHI, Russia – The grandfather of Finnish hockey didn't leave the ice in a rocking chair on Saturday; he left in a bronze chariot.
A seemingly ageless Teemu Selanne capped his dynamic Olympic career in fitting fashion, scoring two goals as Finland thumped Team USA 5-0 in the bronze-medal game.
"Twenty-six years ago I played my first game for the national team," he said. "I've been carrying this jersey with a lot of pride and love. Winning this game, I'm so happy."
His teammates seemed to be even happier for their captain, who at age 43 was playing in his sixth Winter Olympics (1992, 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010).
"I'm really happy for him, I can't even say the words," said 21-year-old center Mikael Granlund, who was making his Olympic debut. "He's done so much for Finnish hockey."
With Saturday's victory against the Americans, Selanne became the oldest player to win a medal in Olympic hockey (43 years, 234 days). Igor Larionov of Russia was 41 years, 83 days when he won bronze in 2002 at Salt Lake City.
"He's a great leader, great player, great guy," said Finnish goalie Tuukka Rask, who made 27 saves in the shutout. "I'm so happy for him."
Finland was poised to play for gold. They eliminated the Russians with a 3-1 victory in the quarterfinals but lost 2-1 to Sweden in the semifinals on Friday.
"How we bounced back, I'm so proud of my guys," Selanne said. "We knew we could play our best game of this tournament and we did."
He said the message they stressed in the team meeting about two hours before puck drop against Team USA: "We deserved better than fourth place."
While OIympic gold eluded Selanne throughout his career, he still has quite the collection of metal: one silver medal and three bronze.
TEEMU SELANNE THROUGH THE YEARS
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"It's a dream come true for me," said Selanne, whose 43 career Olympic points are a record. "We're a small country, but hockey is the biggest thing there."
And now it's back to the U.S. to rejoin the NHL's Anaheim Ducks, for whom he has played a secondary role this season. He has scored seven goals, 13 assists and 20 points in 47 games.
He's not on the top line. He's not getting big power-play minutes. But he proved in Sochi that he's still pretty spry for 43.
"Obviously the Stanley Cup is the next goal," he said.
Kevin Oklobzija writes for the Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester, N.Y.
PHOTOS: BRONZE MEDAL GAME