This year, Mathias Trettenes is playing in his sixth IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. In the previous five, he had scored three goals in 32 games. In Norway’s second game of the 2021 edition, the 27-year-old HC La Chaux-de-Fonds forward scored three in his team’s 4-1 victory over Italy.
“I was lucky to have one this season in Switzerland but I don’t usually get three goals in a game,” Trettenes said after the game.
With the win, Norway improves to 1-1 while the Italians fall to 0-2. Coincidentally, both teams lost to Germany in their openers – Norway 5-1 and Italy 9-4. As such, both teams were looking for improved efforts in their second games and probably accomplished that.
“I think we managed the puck better (than last game), we trusted our game plan, we executed and stayed on the right side,” said Trettenes. “I think we did a lot of good stuff against Germany too but obviously came up short. Today was better intensity and now we move on to the next game.”
As they did in their opener against Germany, the Italians kept it close for one period. Norway held an edge in play but not overwhelmingly so, outshooting Italy 8-6. Trettenes got the period’s only goal just past the midpoint off the rush – his wrist shot from the left wing tipping off the blade of defenceman Angelo Miceli’s stick and beating Justin Fazio on the short side.
“The first one was a counter-attack where Sondre (Olden) put the puck in the middle and (Tobias) Lindstrom tried to make it a 2-on-1 and I went for the shot,” said Trettenes.
“We played well but for 10 minutes had a blackout,” said Italian captain Daniel Frank, who scored the team’s only goal today. “If you’re not focused and too late at this level you concede goals. If we play well for 60 minutes we have a chance against an opponent like this.”
In the second period, Norway pressured more and Italy ran into penalty trouble. Or rather, Stefano Giliati ran into penalty trouble. The veteran and well-travelled HC Bolzano winger picked up 14 penalty minutes in the middle frame – a tripping minor in the 25th minute and a 2-plus-10 for checking to the head and neck area in the 35th – and Norway cashed on each power play.
The 2-0 goal was scored by Mats Rosseli-Olsen. The Frolunda Gothenburg veteran took a pass from Ken Andre Olsen at the top of the slot and sent a one-time snapper past the glove of Fazio. Trettenes’ second of the game made it 3-0 when he tried to find Tommy Kristiansen in front of the net but his pass went off the skate of an Italian defenceman and into the net.
“We kept the pressure for a long time and I tried to pass it to the net-front guy but it hit a skate and went in, so a lucky bounce there,” said Trettenes.
“The second period has been a struggle for us,” said Fazio, the 24-year-old Bolzano goaltender. “We showed today that we have more to offer. We get back to watching video and see where we can improve for the next game.”
But overall, Fazio was fantastic in net for Italy, who was very busy for the second game in a row. In the second period alone, he stopped 21 of 23 Norwegian shots, and 35 of 39 in the hockey game. Henrik Haukeland was also playing his second straight game, but he was much less busy, stopping 17 of 18 Italian shots.
Trettenes completed his hat trick a minute into the third period when he put a very nice deflection on Eriend Lesund’s point shot, tipping it down and through Fazio’s legs.
“It was a good faceoff play and I saw we had some traffic in front of the net so I was just trying to put it on net and it was a good play by Mathias,” said Lesund, the Rogle Angelholm defenceman who recorded two assists in the game.
“Of course ,Trettenes played very, very well today,” said Norway head coach Petter Thoresen. “He played very, very well in the exhibition games, so I’m glad to see him back on the ice with skills.”
With the game firmly in Norway’s grasp, the only question left was whether Haukeland would get the shutout. That was answered in the negative with eight minutes to go when he stopped the initial shot from Raphael Andergassen but couldn’t cover the rebound. After several whacks at the loose puck, Frank got the puck in behind the Norwegian goaltender and then swept it in.
It was some consolation for the Italians, who are still without some of their top players and head coach Greg Ireland. They will try again tomorrow against host Latvia.
“Latvia is a strong team,” said interim head coach Giorgio de Bettin. “We’ve really had a tough time against them in the past few years. I really expect a tough game. They’ve grown a lot as a national team in recent years.”
After already playing on back-to-back days, the Norwegians now get a day off before facing Finland on Tuesday.
“We have to play with discipline and be good without the puck, and of course don’t give away the puck as much as we did yesterday against Germany,” said Thoresen. “I hope we can play solid defensively and be smart with the puck in the next game against Finland.”