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Vladimir Putin scores 5 goals in exhibition hockey game

Russian President Vladimir Putin (right), playing alongside former NHL players such as Pavel Bure and Slava Fetisov, scored five goals in a 12-7 victory against amateur players in the "Legends of Hockey" exhibition game in Sochi, Russia. Alexei Nikolsky/AP Photo

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.

"Thanks to you, millions of people make a choice in favor of a healthy lifestyle," he said.