Canada cruises past Norway
by Chris JUREWICZ|16 MAY 2024
photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation / Andrea Cardin
The Norwegians came close to making history on Thursday at the 2024 IIHF World Championship.

But it’s not the kind of history any team wants to make, with the Norwegians being held shotless against Canada through two periods. Norway did get six shots in the third, along with a goal, but still lost the game 4-1.

Thankfully for Norway, it was unable to beat or match the record for fewest shots, which was set in 2021 by Denmark in a game against Switzerland. The team’s first shot on Thursday came just under two minutes into the third period, with a large contingent at Prague Arena roaring in approval when the shot was posted on the scoreclock.

Moments later, Norway’s Stian Solberg finished a nice play on a 2-on-1 with Eirik Salsten for Norway’s first goal that made it 2-1 Canada. The score flattered the Norwegians, who were outshot 6-0 after the first and 21-0 after two periods. The final shots were 33-6.

"That’s one of the wildest games I’ve ever played in," said Canadian goaltender Nicolas Daws. "I don’t think I’ve played in a game where I haven’t had a shot until the third period. But it was fun. I think we played really well and the win is the most important thing."

Despite the minor scare for Canada with Solberg scoring to make it 2-1, Dylan Cozens restored his team’s two-goal lead later in the third while killing a penalty. After intercepting a Norwegian attempted pass at the Canadian blueline, Cozens skated in with Brandon Hagel on a 2-on-1. Rather than pass, Cozens kept it simple and fired a perfect shot blocker-side that beat Norway’s Henrik Haukelan, who was Norway’s best player in the game.

"I think we responded well," said Cozens, noting head coach Andre Tourigny challenged his players to rebound from a near-loss to Austria a day earlier. "The end of last game was pretty crazy and unacceptable by us to give up five goals like that. To come out and play and not allow a shot for that long, I think it was a great response by us."

Jared McCann scored into an empty net to conclude the scoring. Daws picked up an assist on McCann's goal.

Canada scored in each of the first two periods but weren’t able to build a big lead.

Brandon Tanev opened the scoring at 11:50 of the first when he passed the puck to Kaiden Guhle at the offensive blue line and then headed hard to the net, taking a return pass from Guhle and tipping the puck past Haukelan. It was Guhle’s fourth assist and fifth point at these Worlds and Tanev’s first goal wearing a Team Canada uniform (this is first appearance in an international event for Team Canada).

Andrew Mangiapane got his first goal of the tournament early in the second, when he was parked in the paint and re-directed a pass from Bowen Byram into the net, a play similar  to Canada’s first goal.

Haukelan kept his team in it with a number of marvelous saves, especially in a second period where the vast majority of the play was in the Norwegian end.

"Henrik is a great goalie, always playing well," said Norway's Solberg. "He’s been our best player this tournament and he’s our most important player. In this game too, he’s so important to us (and allowed) us to stay in this game for such a long time."

The closest Norway came to a shot on goal in the second was a point shot by Eskild Bakke Olsen, but it was going wide when Daws gloved it so didn’t register on the shot clock. Daws was playing his first game of the tournament and first for Canada since the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship.

With the win, Canada is tied for first in Group A with Switzerland at 11 points, two ahead of Czechia. Canada faces stiff competition the rest of the preliminary round, with games against Finland, Switzerland and Czechia.

Canadian defender Owen Power says his team expects a tough game against the Finns. The rivalry between the two teams has been stoked in recent years as Canada and Finland have played for gold in three of the past four Worlds.

"They’re a really structured team," said Power. "They’re not going to give you much. We have to keep it simple and wear them down, not force anything, and take what they give us."

Norway, meanwhile, is tied with Denmark at three points and would need a miracle to qualify for the quarter-finals.