What started as a sleepy matinee at Nokia Arena turned into a thriller, with Norway defeating Great Britain 4-3 in a shootout. In a match-up of two teams that dropped their first games at the 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, each team got its first points of the tournament.
As he often does, captain Mathis Olimb led Norway’s offence with two power-play goals in the second period to help his team build up a 3-0 lead. But GB stormed back from the dead with three goals in the last 7:09 of the third period to force overtime. Brett Perlini, who plays in Norway for the Ringerike Panthers, had a goal and an assist.
“We were thinking ahead a little bit,” said Olimb. “Then we were thinking of consequences all the time instead of just playing with confidence and playing our game. But all-in-all, we’re taking two points and they’re taking one, so we’ve gotta say that’s a good thing.”
Norway won the shootout 2-1, with Mattias Trettenes and Michael Haga scoring for Norway and Scott Conway for Great Britain.
“We knew coming into the third that if we kinda doubled down we could see what happens,” defenceman David Phillips said about the British comeback. “To get a point was great but we’re a bit disappointed not to get that extra one in OT there. But I think we’re pleased that we found the character to turn the game around.”
Norway was the more rested of the two teams, having played Friday night against host Finland, while Great Britain took on Czechia yesterday afternoon. Both goalies Henrik Haukeland and Ben Bowns, each team’s clear starter, were making their second starts for their teams. Norway outshot GB 32-24 through 65 minutes of hockey.
“We’re happy with the first 55 minutes but the last five were not so good for us,” said Haukeland. “I think we were a little bit panicking and that’s not like us. We usually play really composed and stable. We have to analyze that and do better tomorrow.”
The shots were 11-1 Norway in the first period, with the British mainly sitting back in a defensive shell and looking for counter-attack opportunities, which were few and far between. It took 15 minutes for GB to register its first shot on goal when Cade Neilson picked the pocket of a Norwegian defender and quickly fired on Haukeland, who had to be sharp.
Just over a minute later, Norway opened the scoring when Andreas Klavestad’s harmless-looking shot from the boards tipped off the stick of Phillips and through Bowns’ legs.
“I think as a team that first period really killed us,” said Phillips. “After the way we left the game yesterday, that’s not the way we wanted to start today. I think we only had one shot on net, we weren’t executing our plays and then we started turning it around, getting back to our game and really frustrating them in the D zone and stayed within our structure.”
In fact, the British team was much better in the second period, especially at 5-on-5, but Norway scored twice on the power play to widen the lead.
The 2-0 goal came at 26:35, with Olimb being the last Norwegian player to get his stick on the puck during a wild goalmouth scramble. At first, it appeared that Mark Richardson had saved the goal by whacking the puck out of mid-air away from the goal line with his stick, but upon video replay, it became clear that the puck had fully crossed the line in the air.
Late in the period, Olimb struck again on the power play. This time he was stationed at the point and took a long pass that went diagonally across the attacking zone from brother Ken Andre Olimb. Mathis then unloaded a bomb that went through everybody.
“It was good to get a couple of goals and hopefully we can keep it up,” the Norwegian captain said about the power play. “I think we moved the puck really well, had a lot of good options to adjust. It’s something that we can be confident in heading forward.”
Early in the third period, Perlini was awarded a penalty shot after being hooked from behind on a penalty shot by Johannes Johannesen. On the shot, he tried to go five-hole but Haukeland closed the door.
Robert Dowd broke the shutout with just over seven minutes to play, working a nice give-and-go down low with Ben Lake and then firing a nifty backhander through Haukeland.
“One goal can change everything in hockey and that’s what happened,” the Norwegian goalie said. “We started to panic a bit, that’s all.”
Just 38 seconds later, it was a one-goal game. Perlini finished off the play with the relatively easy tap-in after his cousin, Scott Conway, had made a great play circling the net with a pass in tight. The “Barmy Army” behind the net exploded again.
Perlini then assisted on the equalizer with 3:51 remaining in regulation time, sending a nice cross-ice pass for Richardson, who one-timed it from the slot through a crowd.
Bowns was the busier of the two goalies in the five-minute overtime period, making six saves, although Haukeland made perhaps the biggest save, stopping Evan Mosey on a partial breakaway with a minute to go. Mosey got his own rebound back but after coming in with speed, couldn’t put on the brakes fast enough and hit the side of the net.
In the end, GB fell in the shootout, but the point earned could turn out to be valuable later on.
“One hundred per cent confident,” Phillips said about his team’s mental state. “Since we came in this group, we’ve always said that we don’t just want to make up the numbers, we want to prove that we’re good enough to stay. In the last few years we’ve shown that. We had a big opening game against the Czechs and we want to show the world that we will make it into a dogfight and do everything we can to stay in a game like that.”