Perfect Slovakia overpowers Norway
by Lucas AYKROYD|29 DEC 2023
Slovakia rejoices after Juraj Pekarcik's first-period goal in an 8-4 triumph over Norway at the 2024 IIHF World Junior Championship in Gothenburg, Sweden.
On the strength of four power play goals, Slovakia demolished Norway 8-4 on Friday. Bidding to top Group B in Gothenburg, the Slovaks have started off with three straight wins for the first time in World Junior history.

Servac Petrovsky and Dalibor Dvorsky dazzled with two goals and two assists apiece. Dvorsky, an all-star at the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship, ended his two-game point drought. Filip Mesar and Maxim Strbak each added three helpers.

Coach Ivan Fenes' troops, who blew this one open with five second-period goals, are hitting their offensive potential with 17 goals so far.

In a crucial showdown, Norway will battle Switzerland on Saturday. Both teams are winless and desperate to avoid the do-or-die relegation game on 4 January.

Slovakia, which came sixth last year, is hungry to medal again. It earned bronze at the 1999 and 2015 World Juniors. The Slovaks confront the 2023 bronze medalist Americans on Saturday.

Slovakia's Adam Gajan, named Best Goalie in 2023, had 22 saves for his third win. Norway’s Sebastian Aarsund made his World Junior debut in net, with starter Markus Stensrud resting up for Switzerland. However, Aarsund would be pulled before the midway mark. Slovakia outshot Norway 35-26.

Norway's Michael Brandsegg-Nygard, a projected 2024 NHL first-round pick, had two goals and an assist.

Brandsegg-Nygard drew first blood at 3:08. The 18-year-old Oslo-born winger stole the puck after a faceoff in the Norwegian zone, raced away, and popped the water bottle off for his first World Junior goal. It was the only lead Norway would enjoy.

On a Slovak man advantage, Petrovsky fed Samuel Honzek in front for a tip under the cross bar at 13:35. It was the big Vancouver Giants forward's third goal in as many games.

Just 27 seconds later, Dvorsky found Juraj Pekarchik with a slick cross-ice pass and he beat Aarsund five-hole.

In the second period, Honzek drew a hooking penalty on a breakaway attempt that Aarsund stymied. On the ensuing power play, Dvorsky got a neat pass from Peter Repcik and cut in front to convert a backhander at 3:34.

Strbak rushed in and slipped the puck to Petrovsky in the slot for a 4-1 lead at 6:03. Just 1:07 later, the Owen Sound Attack veteran scored from the same spot. Norwegian coach Christer Nylund then yanked Aarsund in favour of Martin Lundberg.

Lundberg got a rough welcome as the Slovaks made it 6-1 just seven seconds into their next power play, with Dvorsky deftly setting up Repcik at 12:30.

Blueliner Luka Radijovevic added his first World Junior goal with the man advantage at 14:08. The 16-year-old son of former national team star Branko Radivojevic is the tournament's youngest player.

In the third period, Norway's Stian Solberg cut the deficit to 7-2 at 8:34. Dvorsky wristed home his second of the game five minutes later.

Just 42 seconds afterwards, Petter Vesterheim replied for Norway, and Brandsegg-Nygard rounded out the scoring on the power play at 14:57 with Mesar serving a double minor for high-sticking. The game clearly got chippier as time wound down.

The last time Norway scored four or more goals in a World Junior game was 4 January 1990 in a 7-3 win over Poland.

Slovakia stayed perfect against Norway at the World Juniors. Previous meetings were in the relegation round. The Slovaks won 4-3 in Vancouver in 2006 and 5-0 in Buffalo in 2011.
Norway vs Slovakia - 2024 IIHF World Junior Championship