STOCKHOLM – In a close affair, Norway defeated Slovenia 3-1 at the Globe Arena in the opening game for both teams at the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.
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Two goals in the first period by Anders Bastiansen paced the Norwegians to victory.
Slovenia was strengthened by the additions of David and Marcel Rodman to the roster. The Rodman brothers have been longtime contributors to the Slovenian national team.
Norway wasted no time in scoring 1:02 into the game. Bastiansen raced down the wing sending a shot five hole as he was in stride. The goal came on the first shot of the game.
The Norwegians peppered the Slovenian goaltender Robert Kristan with shots. In all, they would outshoot Slovenia 11-4 in the first period with Mats Trygg leading the way with four.
Bastiansen would add to the lead, scoring with 5:57 left in the period. Ken Olimb sent Bastiansen on a breakaway with a beautiful pass.
Prior to this game Bastiansen scored 14 World Championship goals for Norway going back to 2006.
"It is really nice to start like that," said Bastiansen. "It feels great to help the team in that way."
Despite being down two goals, Slovenia continued to battle back until finally with 16.2 left in the period, Ziga Jeglic scored a nice put away in front assisted by Rok Ticar.
"They got some energy after scoring that goal," said Per-Åge Skrøder. "Lucky for us the two early goals we scored held up."
The goal lifted Slovenia and they played their best period of the game in the second. There were so many really good opportunities, including one by Jeglic at the 13-minute mark and Marcel Rodman with a backhand chance on the power play.
Sabahudin Kovacevic had the best chance of all wide open in front. Kovacevic’s shot was saved by a fallen Lars Haugen off the lower pad just above his skate.
"Our goalie was amazing today as he's been in past tournaments," said Skrøder. "Goaltending is so important and today you see why."
Both Rodman brothers would also have another chance but Haugen came up big again. David Rodman was frustrated enough by their inability to get the puck in the net that he struck his stick against the glass after another big Haugen save.
Slovenia reversed the intensity in the second outshooting Norway 10-2.
In the third both teams traded chances but both goalies remained solid.
Ales Kranjc and Tomaz Razingar could not convert on a two-on-one and Jeglic had a few opportunities to tie. Haugen was able to meet the challenge.
Bastiansen tried for the hat trick on a breakway but Kristan was there there.
Mads Hansen could not score on a penalty shot after he was hooked from behind on a breakaway by Mitja Robar at 18:31.
Chances galore but the goalies kept their teams in it. Mads Hansen made up for missing the penalty shot by scoring an empty net goal with 4.7 seconds left in the game.
The first ten minutes of the game was the difference," said Gasper Kopitar. "They scored two goals, and we came out flat. It wasn't the start we wanted. We weren't physical; we didn't play up to our potential. That's hockey. Later in the game we played well, but we only scored one goal. It wasn't enough."
Next up Slovenia takes on Belarus and Norway goes up against Denmark. Both games will be played tomorrow, May 5th, at the Globe Arena.