HALIFAX – With a 7-4 victory over Latvia in the Relegation Round in 2007, Norway was assured a place here in Halifax. Norway will now have to face tough another difficult challenge in staying up. Norway’s professional approach makes them a tough team to play against. They stick to fundamentals and can score when the opportunity is available.
Roy Johansen has coached the national side since 2001 and has made great strides in getting Norway into the top division. Johansen was a former national team player and the Eliteserien with Valerenga IF Oslo. In 1997 Johansen took over Valerenga as coach, leading them to three titles in four seasons. Assistant Coach Sjur Robert Nilsen is another former player who represented the Norwegian national team 43 times as a player.
Pal Grotnes saw the bulk of duty on the national team. In six games, Grotnes won two and posted a 3.51 goals against average. Grotnes was effective in helping Norway in their Relegation Round wins against Austria and Latvia. Grotnes, a member of Comet Halden, enjoyed a solid season in the Norwegian Eliteserien. Grotnes made his debut in 2005 when he was impressive in leading Norway to the top of the Division I table and back to the top division. Andre Lysenstoen and Ruben Smith will vie for second spot behind Grotnes. Both are rookies to the national team.
Mats Trygg has been a key performer for Norway since joining the national team in 1999. He is usually among the leading scorers for Norway in World Championship play. In Moscow, Trygg jumped into the play when necessary and tied for the team lead in scoring with two goals and seven points. Trygg is not the biggest nor the most physical defenseman but his fluid skating and offensive skills make him an asset. Tommy Jakobsen and Erik Ryman also return. Former NHL defenseman Anders Myrvold will add veteran stability to the lineup. Myrvold played for the Colorado Avalanche, Boston Bruins, New York Islanders, and Detroit Red Wings before returning to Norway. Swedish defenseman Mattihas Holmstedt joins the team after becoming a Norwegian citizen last year.
Morten Ask tied Trygg for team lead in scoring. Ask scored three goals and seven points. Last spring Anders Bastiansen showed a willingness to stay in front of the net, scoring four goals to lead the team. More will be expected from Lars Erik Spets who is now a three-time representative of Team Norway. Mats Froshaug will be one to watch. He is making his World Championship debut. Froshaug, who plays for Linkopings in the Swedish Elitserien, is a rising star for Norway.
Norway will most likely battle it out in the Relegation Round to stay in the top group. Outside of a 3-0 opening game loss last spring, Norway was really never out of a game. There’s a quiet intensity among this team and they are improving.