Eeli Tolvanen emerging as early star as Finland handles Norway


Eeli Tolvanen is using his Olympic platform to send a message to the hockey world.

Get ready.

And perhaps – just, perhaps – he shouldn’t have fallen to 30th in the 2017 NHL draft.

Tolvanen, the Nashville Predators’ 2017 first-round pick, scored two more goals to lead Finland past Norway, 5-1, Friday at the Gangneung Ice Centre in PyeongChang, South Korea. It’s Team Finland’s second win of the preliminary round.

The 18-year-old Tolvanen has three goals and three assists through two games in PyeongChang.

With Finland down 1-0 at 16:36 in the first period, Tolvanen teed off on a one-timing pass from Sami Lepisto, a former NHL player, to beat Norwegian goalie Lars Haugen for the power-play equalizer.

Then, at 5:32 of the second period, Tolvanen found himself on a break on Haugen and beat the Norwegian goaltender with a forehand-to-backhand deke, slipping it through Haugen’s five-hole.

Tolvanen’s second marker was the game-winner. He scored twice on six shots on goal and was a threat to score every time he had the puck.

After a torrid start to the 2017-18 season in the KHL – 16 goals in his first 28 games – Tolvanen hasn’t registered a goal for Jokerit since Nov. 24, 2017, or a span of 18 games.

While the Predators will be keeping a close eye on Tolvanen’s performance in PyeongChang, Jokerit, too, has high stakes on how the 5-foot-10 winger performs.

So far, so good as Tolvanen is emerging as the early star of the Olympics.

Norway winger Patrick Thoresen, formerly of the Philadelphia Flyers and Edmonton Oilers, opened the scoring in the first period, depositing a loose puck past Finland goalie Mikko Koskinen on the power play.

Thoresen’s goal was Norway’s lone against Koskinen, who made 21 saves in the win.

Veli-matti Savinainen, Lepisto, on the power play, and Sakari Manninen also scored for Finland.

Lepisto’s goal was his second of the these Olympics.

Haugen allowed five goals on 29 shots. Through two games, the Norwegian goalie has allowed nine goals on 57 shots.

Finland returns to action Sunday against Germany at 7:10 a.m.

Norway faces Germany Saturday night at 10:10 p.m.

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