Norway stays up, Germany goes down
by Lucas Aykroyd|29 APR 2023
Norway celebrates after Jorgen Myhre's (#15) first-period goal in the deciding 3-2 victory over Germany in relegation play at the 2023 U18 Worlds
photo: Chris Tanouye / IIHF
Smiles in Oslo, tears in Berlin. Norway defeated Germany 3-2 on Saturday to sweep the best-of-three relegation series at the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship in Porrentruy.

Norway returns to the top division for 2024, while Germany goes down to Division IA.

For Norway, this achievement might not be as globally celebrated as Edvard Grieg's music or Karl Ove Knausgaard's novels. But coach Christer Nylund's boys are still happy to have survived.
Shots favoured Norway 35-16. The frustrated Germans couldn't rebound from their tough 6-1 loss in Game One.

The relegation-round teams entered Game 2 with the tournament's least productive power plays, with Norway ranked ninth (3-for-20, 15 percent) and Germany tenth (2-for-19, 10.5 percent).

Yet the PP played a big role on Saturday. Germany languished in the sin bin, accumulating 14 PIM, and the Norwegians capitalized with two PP goals, as they did in Game One.

German defenceman Paul Mayer did not play in Game Two. After taking a five-minute major and game misconduct for boarding at the end of Game One, he served a one-game suspension.

The Germans got a nice start on the power play two minutes in. Defenceman Norwin Panocha blew a one-timer past Norwegian goalie Martin Lundberg. But the good times didn't last long for Deutschland.

At 5:02, the Norwegians struck back on their first power play. Captain Felix Granath sent the puck cross-ice at the blue line to Ole Indergaard, whose long shot was tipped in by Jorgen Myhre. That sparked the Scandinavians, who dominated the rest of the opening stanza, outshooting Germany 13-3.

In the second period, Philip Hagen's rising centre-point wrister gave Norway a 2-1 lead with the man advantage at 5:26. With traffic in front, the puck eluded German netminder Nico Pertuch high to the stick side.

Amandus Klungtveit made it 3-1 Norway at 13:08 with his second goal of these U18 Worlds. With position in front, he deftly tipped in Michael Stoen's shot from the left point.

Desperate to tie it up in the third period, German coach Alexander Duck pulled Pertuch for the extra attacker with under four minutes to go. Julius Sumpf scored with eight seconds left to make it 3-2, but that was as close as Germany would get.

During the preliminary round, the Norwegians looked like the tournament’s weakest team with a 3-28 goal difference. Their four losses included double-digit losses to both the U.S. (12-1) and Finland (10-2). But the Polar Bears rose up when their survival was at stake.

In U18 Worlds play, Norway has only once before played in the top division for two straight years: 2001 (ninth place) and 2002 (11th place). However, there's a caveat: no teams were relegated in 2001, because in 2002, the tournament expanded to 12 teams (a format that only lasted one year).

Moving forward, the Norwegians have some reasons for optimism. For instance, forward Elias Vatne, a Farjestad prospect, led Norway in scoring (3+2=5). He's one of four 2006-born players that could bolster the roster again in 2024. Stay tuned.
Germany vs Norway (Rel.) - 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship