KOSICE – Per-Åge Skrøder and Mathis Olimb scored the only goals of the shootout to give Norway an historic victory over Sweden at the Steel Arena in a dramatic and thrilling game. The victory comes only two days after Germany beat Russia for the first time and gives Norway two points in Group C. Sweden gets a single point for the loss in extra time.
Norway-Sweden 5-4 (1-3, 2-0, 1-1, 1-0) Game Sheet Photos
Coming into the game, the history of the Norway-Sweden rivalry was one of incredible domination by Tre Kronor at every level of hockey since they first started playing in 1950. Norway had managed one tie, on April 25, 1994, on the opening day of the World Championship in Canazei, Italy. Apart from that, Sweden had won all other eleven World Championship games, both Olympic games, all five U20 games, and all three U18 games.
"This is the best," said Norway's captain Ole-Kristian Tollefsen. "I play in Sweden and know a lot of the guys. It's a good rivalry."
"I was a little nervous," Olimb said of his winning shootout shot. "But we were playing well, and I had a good feeling. It wasn't a great shot, and I thought the goalie stopped it, but it got through his legs. It was one of those days when everything goes in."
The game went into a shootout despite two great chances for a win in the overtime. First, Sweden had a power play but couldn't connect, and moments after it expired Norway had an incredible two-on-the-goalie situation, but Mads Hansen passed awkwardly to Skroder who didn't get a good shot on goal.
"We gave them a way to get into the game and let them score a couple of goals on chances we gave them. That gave them momentum, and instead of taking over the game, we let them dominate the second period," said Sweden's Magnus Paajarvi.
A busy first period saw Sweden score three of the four goals, although play was closer than the score might indicate. Eriksson opened the scoring on the power play at 6:21, taking a great cross-ice pass deep in the Norway end from Robert Nilsson and firing it in the back side.
Just a minute and a half later, Norway tied the score on the power play, but this was a goal off the rush, ending with a terrific shot from the top of the faceoff circle by Martin Røymark that zipped over the glove of Erik Ersberg.
Tre Kronor kept coming, though, and added two more goals to the scoreboard, both off the stick of Patrik Berglund. The first, just in front of goalie Lars Haugen, came off a great pass from Martin Thörnberg who looked to be carrying the puck behind the Norwegian goal but slipped it out the near side from a difficult angle.
Berglund’s second was a textbook wrist shot in the slot. He had time to control a loose puck, aim for the corner, and snap a shot with target-practice-like precision. The Swedes also scored a last-minute goal, but it was disallowed because the whistle had already blown play dead.
Perhaps buoyed by the chance offered by that disallowed goal, the Norwegians came out and dominated the Swedes in the second. Dominated! They got the only two goals of the middle frame and did everything but score the go-ahead goal in a ferocious rally in the last few minutes.
Morten Ask made it a 3-2 game at 13:45 when his long snap shot from the point went through a maze of players and past a helpless Ersberg. A few minutes later, Marius Holtet took the puck at the point and drove in on goal, eluding three lax Swedes and roofing a wrister over Ersberg’s glove to send the pro-Norway crowd into a frenzy. In truth, the Swedes were lucky to head to the dressing room in a tie.
"I think when we got the second goal, that's when we felt we could score again," said Tollefsen. "Our goalie was playing unreal as well."
Eriksson scored his second of the night on a power play midway through the third, and that seemed to be the winner. But Norway would have nothing to do with another close loss. Anders Bastiansen jumped on a loose puck in front of Ersberg and got a quick shot off ahead of two Swedish checkers, beating the goalie between the legs to tie the game again, 4-4.
Both teams play again on Monday, the Norwegians taking on the United States in an afternoon game while the Swedes face Austria in the nightcap.
Added Tollefsen: "We have to take it one game at a time. We beat Sweden today, but if we lose to Austria, it doesn't really matter."