PYEONGCHANG, South Korea | At one point of the competition in the recently-completed 2018 Winter Olympic Games, a former Sioux City Musketeer found himself as the leading scorer in men’s hockey.
Competing for his native country, Eeli Tolvanen, part of the 2016-17 Anderson Cup winning squad which lost to Chicago in the Clark Cup Finals, had scored nine points (3 goals, 6 assists) for Finland. The Finns went 2-1 in Group C play, won a playoff qualifier over South Korea, and then lost to Canada in the quarterfinals.
Nikita Gusev of the gold medal-winning Olympic Athletes of Russia overtook Tolvanen, finishing with 12 points (4, 8). The 18-year-old Tolvanen, a 2017 first-round NHL Draft selection (30th pick) of the Nashville Predators, was tied for second place in scoring with OAR’s Kirill Kaprisov, who had five goals and four assists.
Gusev recorded two goals and two assists for OAR, which claimed the gold medal with a 4-3 overtime win on Sunday over Germany. Gusev assisted on Kaprisov’s game-winning power-play goal.
Finland’s youngest player, Tolvanen had a goal and three assists in a 5-2 Group C win over Germany on Feb. 14, then tallied two goals in a 5-1 win over Norway (Feb. 16). Finland concluded Group play with a 3-1 loss to Sweden, where Tolvanen was scoreless.
Tolvanen delivered three assists (two of Petri Kontiola) in a 5-2 playoff-qualifier win over South Korea last Tuesday. The next day, Finland then fell 1-0 to Canada, which eventually won the bronze medal, 6-4 over the Czech Republic.
Tolvanen is currently under contract for Helsingen Jokerit, a professional hockey team based in Helsinki, Finland. The 5-foot-10, 181-pound wing currently has 17 goals and 17 assists for Jokerit, which plays in the Bobrov Division of the Kontinental Hockey League.
Tolvanen recorded a hat trick in his first KHL game and had scored 16 goals in his first 28 games. It is unclear when he’ll be able to suit up for the Nashville Predators, last season’s Stanley Cup runner-up.
Tolvanen had 17 goals and 21 assists in his rookie season (2015-16) with the Musketeers. A year later, he finished as the United States Hockey League’s eighth-leading scorer with 54 points (30 goals, 24 assists), which included six game-winning goals and 13 points (6, 7) on the power play.
Tolvanen then turned in five goals and five assists in the Clark Cup Playoffs, which included a goal and an assist in a 5-4 Game 4 win at Chicago that tied the series 2-all and sent it back to the Tyson Events Center, where the Steel picked up a 2-1 overtime victory.