Starchenko scores shootout winner
by Andrew Podnieks|13 MAY 2023
photo: Matt Zambonin / IIHF
Kazakhstan started its 2023 World Championship on a winning note, defeating Norway, 4-3, in a shootout that right away helps the Kazakhs think about the quarter-finals rather than being relegated. But for Norway, the loss came in a game it might well have believed it, too, could have earned crucial points in the Group B standings.

The shootout went six rounds before captain Roman Starchenko beat Henrik Haukeland with a shot between the pads. In the first five rounds each team had scored once.

Norway came into the game having won the only two meetings between the teams, 4-2 in 2016 and 3-1 two years ago. Both teams are back in action on a busy Sunday. Norway plays in the afternnon against Switzerland while the Kazakhs take on Czechia in the late game.

"It’s huge because it’s the start of the tournament and we need some points," said Kazakh defender Samat Daniyar. "All games are very important and it’s an important start for us. We want to win a lot of games and stay in Group A. That’s our main goal."

"This is a really tough loss for us in an important game," offered Norway's Ken Andre Olimb. "We were up two goals, so it’s really disappointing, but we’ve still got six more games to bounce back from this. We tried to keep playing the same when we were up by two goals but they got some bounces. It was tough."

Norway jumped into a quick 2-0 lead midway through the first thanks two goals 78 seconds apart. Michael Haga got the team’s first goal of the tournament on a power play, wiring a one-timer off a nice setup from Mattias Norstebo at 7:48. It was Haga’s second career WM goal in 29 games. 

Then, Ole-Julian Bjorgvik-Holm doubled the lead when he whacked a loose puck in front that snuck under Andrey Shutov. The Kazakhs got one back late in the period off the rush, Maxim Mukhametov blasting a shot under the blocker of Haukeland at 15:29 off a pass from Batyrlan Muratov. 

Norway upped their lead early in the third on a power play created by a Kirill Savitski elbowing penalty at the end of the opening period. Haga double his career output by getting to a rebound and snapping it high at 1:44 to make it a 3-1 game. Nikita Mikhailis single-handedly could have brought his team back into it on a Kazakh power play a little later, but one shot hit the post and another the crossbar, keeping it a two-goal game and frustrating the Kazakh forward.

Nevertheless, they got one back late in the period again on another man advantage situation. Valeri Orekhov’s long shot went all the way, caroming off Haukeland’s pads and in to make it a one-goal game again.

Midway through the third, Mikhailis finally connected on a power play. His slapshot from close range bounced off Norway defender Johannes Johannessen and in at 11:27, making it a 3-3 game. That set the stage for overtime the drama of a penalty-shot shootout.

"We were down, and we let in two goals on the PK, but we believed that this is our game," said Tamirlan Gaitamirov. "At the beginning, we took some penalties, but for more than half of the team this is a first-time experience. The message from coaches was just play more simple, get more shots, just play our game and have fun. Then, like I said, we came back and won it."
Norway vs Kazakhstan - 2023 IIHF WM