Hockey: Norway Win Olympic Qualifier
Norway’s national ice hockey team won 2-1 over Kazakstan on Feb. 5, in their first qualifier for the Vancouver Olympic Games. Patrick Thoresen and Tore Vikingstad scored for Norway.
Norway had the main attraction of game, the line with towering Tore Vikingstad (Hannover Scorpions, GER) centering Patrick Thoresen (HC Lugano, SUI) and Per-Åge Skrøder (MODO, SWE). That line has all it takes to make an impact on both this level and above; size, speed, skill and scoring, reports Universal Sports.
Although Norway made a more solid overall impression, the Kazakhs were always dangerous on the counterattack and they definitely played above their World Ranking of 19th.
After a scoreless first period, the first unit went to work in the middle stanza and opened the scoring at 6 minutes and 49 seconds when Vikingstad and Thoresen worked wonders in the Kazakh zone. The latter finished the play with a nice move on excellent goalie Alexei Kuznetsov, who by the way was the reason why Norway was held scoreless in the opening period, writes Universal Sports.
Kuznetsov made two amazing saves (one pad, one glove) when it looked like sure goals for the home favorites.
Kazakhstan equalized three minutes later when Norwegian goalie Pål Grotnes (from Lørenskog) lost sight of the puck after save and Vadim Krasnoslobotsev batted the puck from mid-air and past Grotnes.
But Norway’s top unit restored the lead at the 13 minute mark, on a splendid power-play goal. This time it was Per-Åge Skrøder’s time to shine with a brilliant cross-zone pass and Vikingstad had just to hold the blade at the right angle to deflect the puck past a sprawling Kuznetsov.
This trio produced another great opportunity which could have broken the Kazakh spirit with eight minutes left of the game. But this time, Thoresen missed right in front of Kuznetsov, again assisted by Vikingstad and Skrøder.
With their goalie pulled, Kazakhstan enjoyed a two-skater advantage — and the faceoff in Norway’s end — for the last six seconds, but they couldn’t get a shot away. This was a huge win for the host against what may have been the strongest opponent of the group.