Vladimir Putin scores 5 goals in exhibition hockey game

Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

SOCHI, Russia — Russian President Vladimir Putin scored five goals in an exhibition hockey game with former NHL stars on Thursday.

In what has become an annual tradition given ample airtime on state TV, Putin played on a “Legends of Hockey” team alongside big names of the past such as Pavel Bure and Slava Fetisov.

The opposition was comprised of amateur players, plus a governor and a pro-Putin billionaire. Putin’s team won the mostly slow-paced game 12-7.

Five goals was on the low side by Putin’s standards — he scored eight in the 2015 game and seven last year. The 65-year-old Russian president took up hockey late in life after being a keen judo competitor in his youth.

Amateur-league hockey players set a “wonderful example” for ordinary Russians, Putin said, adding “thanks to you, millions of people make a choice in favour of a healthy lifestyle.”

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