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THE OLYMPICS / WINTER GAMES AT ALBERTVILLE : What They’re Saying : What rival coaches and players are saying about today’s semifinal hockey game between the United States and the Unified Team:

Finnish defenseman Arto Ruotanen, whose team lost to the Unified Team in the semifinals, 6-1: “I think the Soviets are good enough (to defeat the Americans), but I don’t think they can win the gold medal. I don’t think they’re as good as they have been. They’re playing very well defensively. A team that plays even better defensively can win. The U.S. can do this, but they’re not allowed to take too many penalties because the Soviets have such a strong power play.”

Finnish Coach Pentti Matikainen: “Their spirit is strong on the USA team, but they must also play very clever because the Soviets control the puck all the time. If the USA waits and plays a physical game, they will have a chance. . . . I would think Russia will win, but you never know what will happen here. . . . I have heard people say the Russians aren’t strong in goal but (Mikhail Shtalenkov) played very well against our team.”

Unified Team assistant coach Igor Dmitriev: “We are aware they can concentrate and play to the highest levels. They always perform well until the end of the game. . . . (In games between the Unified Team and the United States or Canada) nobody wants to give way. They are representatives of the best ice hockey schools and when they meet, nobody wants to give way. Many European teams, when they play against our team, just play by counterattacking. But when our team plays against the USA team or Canadian team, those teams prefer open hockey.”

French Coach Kjell Larsson, whose team lost to the Unified Team, 8-0, and to the U.S. team, 4-1: “I give (the United States) no chance. I’m honest. I say they have no chance. No. No. No.”

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