ZURICH-KLOTEN – Belarus won its first game of the Qualification Round, defeating a determined Team Norway 3-2 in overtime. A late rush and good bounce off the boards saw Ruslan Salei score the game-ending goal.
This afternoon’s contest was the first Qualification Round game at Arena Zurich-Kloten at the 2009 World Championships.
Norway came out and spent the first minute in the Belarus zone and throughout showed confidence in their ability to create offensive chances.
Norway scored at 6:15 when Andre Mezin tried to clear the puck out of his zone. His pass was intercepted by Tore Vikingstad, who sent a backhand pass to Patrick Thoresen for a shot between faceoff circles that beat Mezin for the goal.
Norway added another very early in the second period when Mats Trygg scored an unassisted goal. It was a power play goal 38 seconds into the period.
Belarus would finally get on the board as they picked up the tempo and began playing with a sense of urgency. Some two minutes after Trygg scored, Alexei Ugarov would cut the lead in half.
Jonas Holos was whistled off for hooking, allowing Belarus to set up their power play. Ugarov, who scored the game-winning goal in their win over Hungary, blew a wrist shot past Andre Lysenstøen to make it 2-2.
It was only the second power-play goal so far in the tournament that Belarus has scored. Prior to this game, their power-play efficiency was ranked 13th among the sixteen nations.
Norway would be called for two more minors in the period but Belarus could not capitalize on these man-advantage opportunities.
Finally in the third, Belarus was able to tie the score on Mikhail Grabovsky’s power-play marker. Grabovsky scored as he curled past a sliding Anders Myrvold and wrapped a shot around the net past Lysenstøen. For Grabovsky, it was his third goal of the tournament.
"All I wanted to do was move into the middle of the ice and get a shot off because I hadn't had a shot in the game up to that point," Grabovski.
The biggest reason Belarus won is because of their rejuvenated power play. Two power-play goals on the day were key to their coming back in the game.
"We tried to move the puck more quickly today and we wanted to get the puck to our defensemen to shoot more," said Grabovski.
With 1:14 left in overtime, Morten Ask had a great chance in front but Mezin came up with a big stop.
Going the other way, a hard shot from the point hit the boards behind the net while Ruslan Salei was streaking towards the net. The puck slid off Lysenstøen’s stick side and Salei tapped it off the goaltender and in the net for the win with twenty five seconds remaining in overtime.
"Norway is a good team," said Grabovski. "They started the game well but we finished the game well.