Winter Olympics 2018: 18-year-old Eeli Tolvanen stars in Finland's ice hockey win against Germany; Sweden beat Norway
Tolvanen, selected by Nashville in the first round of 2017's NHL Draft, netted one goal and set up three others in Finland's 5-2 triumph over Germany.
Gangneung: Finland teenager Eeli Tolvanen scored in his Winter Olympic debut Thursday but Sweden teen defenceman Rasmus Dahlin didn't even suit up as both Scandinavian sides won impressive Pyeongchang Winter Olympics openers.
Tolvanen, an 18-year-old forward selected 30th overall by Nashville in the first round of last year's NHL Draft, netted one goal and set up three others in Finland's 5-2 triumph over Germany in group play.
"It was a good game for us, a huge win for the start of the tournament," Tolvanen said. "We can go all the way."
Tolvanen had a hat-trick in his Kontinental Hockey League debut for Helsinki Jokerit six months ago and showed the same form under the Olympic spotlight.
"The young kid was awesome. He was leading the way," said Finland captain Lasse Kukkonen. "It's always exciting to see young players coming up and taking the next step."
Dahlin, a 17-year-old for Swedish side Frolunda, didn't suit up but would become the youngest Olympic men's hockey player since 1984 if he takes the ice for Sweden, which beat Norway 4-0 to join the Finns atop Group C.
Dahlin, being eyed as the potential first Swedish top pick in the NHL Draft since Mats Sundin in 1989, would be the youngest player to win Olympic hockey gold if Sweden takes the title.
"That would be cool. I'm trying to get that," Dahlin said. "I try to be better every day. I just love the game and I don't think about anything else besides hockey."
But it was Tolvanen who made magic Thursday, scoring 80 seconds into a second-period power play to give Sweden a 3-1 lead, then setting up Kukkonen's goal 81 seconds later. He also assisted on power-play goals by Sami Lepisto in the first period and Joonas Kemppainen in the third.
"We got the power-play goal early in the first period and that was a little boost for my game. That was the biggest thing," Tolvanen said. "We had good players for power play and we moved the puck a lot."
Tolvanen ignores the notion of extra pressure on the Olympic stage because of his youth.
"I don't care about that," he said. "We have a really good team and we have a lot of leaders so I don't feel any pressure because of that. I just go out and enjoy it."
Among those leaders is four-time Olympian Kukkonen.
"I'm sitting next to him in the locker room so that is good, kind of just watch him and see what he's doing," Tolvanen said. "He's a legend, a great captain. All over this tournament, he has been a big help for me... how to act here, what to do on the run-in."
Group-stage openers conclude later Thursday when two-time defending champion Canada faces Switzerland and South Korea meets the Czech Republic.