STOCKHOLM – Per-Åge Skrøder scored two goals to lead Norway to an important 3-1 win in the Stockholm round robin. With the three points Norway now has nine and sits in the fourth and final playoff spot.
The loss leaves Belarus with three points, tied for sixth and little chance of qualifying for the quarter-finals.
Norway (3-0-0-2) next plays unbeaten Switzerland tomorrow while Belarus (1-0-0-4) faces Denmark on Monday afternoon.
"We played our trap system very well tonight, which we didn't do so well for the first four games," said Morten Ask. "We had better legs and executed well. We still have big games aganst the Czechs and Swiss, but we think we can make the playoffs."
Jonas Holøs played 29:26 to lead all players and was a star on the blue line for the Norwegians. "They told me I was going to play a lot. The coaches said I could play all of the power play, and kill penalties. In the beginning, we used three pairings, but as the game went on I played a lot more."
There were but two events of significance in an otherwise quiet first period. First, Norway opened the scoring at 3:55 on a quick play. Martin Røymark got to a loose puck behind the Belarus net before defenceman Oleg Goroshko could get to him, and Røymark zipped a pass into the slot for Per-Åge Skrøder. Skrøder wired a quick shot past Vitali Belinski for the 1-0 lead. Belinski was making his international debut for Belarus.
Later in the period the Norwegians ran afoul of the law again in this tournament. This time it was Andreas Martinsen who drilled Andrei Filichkin from behind along the boards, earning a major and game misconduct penalty.
Of the five suspensions handed out so far this year, three have been to Norway and two to Ole-Kristian Tollefsen, who was out of the lineup this night serving his second one-game suspension this year.
On the ensuing power play, though, the Norwegians stepped up for Martinsen and were superb in blocking shots and killing off the five minutes, heading to the dressing room with a well-earned 1-0 lead.
"That was a huge moment in the game," Holøs noted. "That gave us energy, and we felt after that this was our day to win."
Norway continued to dominate in the second period, playing with greater energy and enthusiasm and winning most of the puck battles. In short, they seemed to want it more – and they got what they wanted. Skrøder got his second on the night when he knocked in a rebound off a Mats Trygg point shot at 5:58.
Lars Haugen was called upon to make precious few saves as Belarus couldn’t create any offense at all.
Anders Bastiansen closed out the scoring for Norway at 14:18 of the third with a high shot that caught Belinski by surprise. Alexander Kulakov scored with 1:33 remaining to break Haugen's shutout.
"We played a smart game," said Holøs. "We played well in their end and moved the puck around well."