The Ottumwa Courier

AP Sports

February 19, 2014

Russian fans lament hockey team's Olympic loss

(Continued)

"They put up together many hockey stars but with no result," said Andrei Bondar, a 42-year-old road construction manager from Krasnodar. "Finland was well-organized. They scored two goals and never looked back after adding one more."

Outside the Bolshoy, fans shook their heads and threw up their arms in frustration. To put the disappointment in perspective, think of the feelings in Rio de Janeiro if Brazil loses in the World Cup this year, look back on the dejection in Tuscaloosa when Alabama lost to Auburn in the Iron Bowl or turn on talk radio in New York in the fall if the Yankees fail to make the World Series.

"It is such a shame," said Boris Popov, a 62-year-old construction worker from Siberia. "There are no words. It's simply a shame for the second Olympics we lost."

When one fan was approached, he covered his face in a goalie mask and walked away. Others shouted into the air to vent their frustrations. Alex Korovin, a 41-year-old manager from Siberia, said the loss was Russia coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov's fault.

"The coach is to be blamed for the result, only the coach," he said. "He had a set of bright hockey stars but failed to make a team. There was no team during all their games here."

Bilyaletdinov apologized to the fans after the game, but it's clear that it's going to take some time for these new wounds to heal. When the team filled with NHL millionaires sullenly lifted sticks at the end of the game to salute their fans, the few cheers in the arena were drowned out by angry whistles as they left the ice.

"There are eight million people in Finland. We have 140 million," Popov said. "Fifteen times more kids are playing ice hockey here. Where are they?"

"They change a jersey and go to the NHL and only think of their bank accounts," Popov added. "They just ruin ice hockey. Not a single child dreams of hockey now. Only about money."

Said Korovin: "I want my money back."

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AP Sports Writer Jon Krawczynski contributed to this report.

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