Frisk Asker Norwegian champion
by Risto Pakarinen|24 APR 2019
Anders Bastiansen, here with the Norwegian national team, won the Norwegian championship with his hometown team Frisk Asker.
photo: Matt Zambonin / HHOF-IIHF Images
In 2002, when Frisk Asker advanced to the Norwegian league final against Storhamar, Anders Bastiansen was a 21-year-old promising young player on his way up. Frisk, a regular-season runner-up grabbed the title by beating Storhamar in Game 5 of the best-of-five series. 

After a decade in Sweden and Austria – and one Swedish title with Farjestad – Bastiansen returned to his native Asker in 2015, and began the chase for another Norwegian title. 

In 2019, his Frisk faced Storhamar in the final, and this time Frisk beat their rivals in six games in a dramatic fashion when Frisk first tied Game 6 with three and a half minutes remaining in the third period, after Storhamar had had two goals disallowed. And then, just 2.19 into the overtime, Christian Kasastul’s shot hit Petter Kristiansen in front of the net, and the puck deflected into the Storhamar net.

Mats Zuccarello’s alma mater were Norwegian champions.

“I don’t think many people believed in us. In 2002, we were probably the best team in the league, but this season, we weren’t ranked among the top teams,” Bastiansen told Norwegian VG. 

The championship was the fourth one in Frisk Asker’s history and they did with the core of the team being local boys as eight players were Asker natives. Asker is a small town of about 60,000 people, a twenty-minute drive from Oslo. 

When team captain Bastiansen celebrated Frisk Asker’s third title seventeen years ago, the 2019 team’s head coach was just 12. Jan Andre Aasland began the season as an assistant to Scott Hillman, but was promoted to the head coach’s position in December with no experience of coaching in a men’s league. (He did win a Norwegian title with Valerenga in 2009, as a defenseman). 

“I don’t the exact history of Norwegian hockey, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we were the underdog of underdogs. We were the underdogs in the quarterfinal, in the semi-final, and in the final,” said Aasland, who at 29, became the youngest championship winning coach in Norway.

Frisk Asker beat Lillehammer in a seven-game quarterfinal series and Valerenga in six games in the semi-final en route to the final. 

“I didn’t change that many things or bring in a lot of new stuff. We decided to work on our defence and the entire team bought into the concept. We’ve got in more joy and I think that’s the foundation of our success,” Aasland told Norwegian NRK

Once again, champions were created under pressure, when a team faced adversity and worked through it together. It is the biggest sports cliché of all time, and it’s the one we still love the best. 

“At the beginning of the season, we were in real trouble, and the club had to make some difficult choices which paid off. Winning this title is one of the coolest things I've been a part of. Everyone has contributed. We've believed in ourselves all the way,” Bastiansen told Norwegian TV2. 

Frisk Asker’s big hero was also their goaltender, a three-time Norwegian league All-Star goalie Nicklas Dahlberg who posted a 49-save shutout in Game 3 of the final series. The 33-Swede who’s tended Frisk’s goal since 2012 was also named playoffs MVP. 

“We played seven overtime periods in the playoffs and won six of them so I thought we could win this one, too,” Dahlberg told NRK.

After the game, coach Aaslund may want to have a look at the game tape again, but not to analyze but simply just to see it. 

“I don’t remember the last goal at all, it’s a complete blackout, it vanished in our happiness. I’m going to have to reflect on this next week, and maybe it’ll come back to me,” he said.