HALIFAX – Norway’s surprising victory over Germany was one of the early highlights of the 2008 IIHF World Championships. Down 2-0, Norway came back to win 3-2 and reach the Qualifying Round.
George Kingston knows something about international hockey. Kingston coached Canada to silver at the 1994 Winter Olympics and had a stint coaching the German national team. He is currently an assistant coach with Norway. IIHF.com’s John Sanful caught up with an emotional Kingston after Norway’s historic game.
How big a win was this for Norway?
Kingston: It’s huge. Most of the staff had tears in their eyes. I was in Norway from 1989-1991 and I know how important it is for them to see progress in their hockey. And to see how closely they played Finland to take the game into overtime before losing and now winning this game I felt this team played very, very well.
It seemed against Finland the team gained a lot of confidence mid-way through the game.
Kingston: I think that was very important and something they had to do. Of course now they beat Germany, and Germany is a very good team.
Given the troubles Germany was facing with the player suspension, did that cause any lack of concentration by Norway coming into the game.
Kingston: Honestly, I did not know about it and the players on our team did not know about it. It’s unfortunate and I think really unfortunate for Slovakia.
How important is this tournament for the young players making their debuts at the World Championships?
Kingston: The team was selected on the basis of introducing a number of young players with the idea that they will develop and get better. What they need is game experience, playing with top teams. You do not get that when you are in the second tier of international hockey. The top eight don’t really want to play you because they too want to get better so they want to play the top guys. It is really frustrating for teams and I think for Slovakia to a certain extent. Some of these guys playing for Norway here will be the next generation to build on.
You’ve coached international hockey, how does this win rank for you?
Kingston: When Team Canada won in 1994 that was extra special. It was an unbelievable memory because Canada had not won for 33 years, since 1961. The players went on a mission and successfully completed that mission. So from my point of view for this young group to come in here and move into the top tier of competition is great. They are very realistic because of who we play tomorrow. We will take that as an experience and we’ll go from there.