Kolstad wins epic men’s handball title

Team survives epic series to capture second straight championship

Photo: Ole Martin Wold / NTB
Sander Sagosen holds the championship trophy for his Kolstad teammates to admire. They defeated Elverum in the decisive Game 3 in overtime, 34-30. It’s their second straight title.

Michael Kleiner
Business & Sports Editor
The Norwegian American

A fire alarm went off at Trondheim Spektrum just before Kolstad and Elverum were to start Game 1 of the REMA-1000 league championship round, May 22. The game was only delayed five minutes. The alarm was symbolic, considering how this fantastic series unfolded.

Kolstad, trying to assert itself as the new power in Norwegian men’s handball, Elverum, making its 12th straight appearance in the finals, responding, “We’re not ready for a transition of power.”

After losing to Haslum in the 2010-2011 final, Elverum won nine straight from 2011-2012 until Kolstad beat them last year. (No champion in 2019-2020, no playoffs in 2020-2021 because of the pandemic). They had won 14 of the last 17 titles.

Game 1 had its dramatic ending, Kolstad surviving 30-28 in front of 5,032 fans. Game 2, May 25, was epic, needing four five-minute overtime periods for Elverum to prevail 41-40. The deciding Game 3, May 29, was epic, again coming down to overtime, this time Kolstad winning 34-30 in front of 2,521 fans at Kolstad Arena.

Game 3

After Elverum drew within 10-9, Kolstad scored four straight goals (Sigvaldi Björn Gudjonsson, Sander Sagosen, Gabriel Ostad Setterblom, Vetle Eck Aga) for a 14-9 lead with 5:15 left in the half. It was 15-12 at halftime.

A Simen Søgaard (6G) goal with 14:04 left tied the game at 21. Tobias Schjølberg Grøndahl (6 goals, 4 assists) gave Elverum a 23-22 lead. Goals by Sagosen (5-10), Adrian Aaberg Øvrebø (3-0), Simen Ulstad Lyse (3-5) and Magnus Abelvik Rød (4-4) gave Kolstad a 26-24 lead with 7:15 remaining. Søgaard and Grøndahl responded to tie the game at 26 with 1:38 left.

Overtime is two five-minute periods.

In the first five-minute period, Sagosen and Søgaard matched goals, then Gudjonsson (10-0) tallied twice and Kolstad took a 29-27 lead into the second five minutes.

Rød, who broke his foot playing for Norway at the European Championships in January, left with an injury, and after Sindre Heldal (5-0) brought Elverum within 29-28, Sagosen received a red card ejection. Gudjonsson scored three times and Setterblom (4-1) once for a 33-29 lead with 46 seconds left. Kolstad could finally breathe easy.

“This is absolutely fantastic. It is so damn deserved,” said goalie Torbjørn Sittrup Bergerud, who had 13 saves, to TV2.

“There are good teams we meet, but in these settings, we are difficult to beat,” Sagosen said to TV 2. “I’m damn proud.”

Kolstad

Photo: Ole Martin Wold / NTB
Hair flying, Kolstad’s Sigvaldi Björn Gudjonsson roars after scoring one of the 10 goals he totaled in Game 3 of the men’s handball finals won by Kolstad.

Game 2:

There was no time on the clock, and Kolstad was up 32-31. Elverum is awarded a 7m  shot. Grøndahl (11-9), 7m shooter extraordinaire on this day, steps up. If he misses, Kolstad heads back to Trondheim as champions. If he converts, the game heads to overtime. Grøndahl scored.

In the first five-minute period, Gudjonsson (9-0) scored twice for Kolstad and Grøndahl and Peter Lukács (6-5) scored for Elverum. Daniel Gillis Lennart Blomgren (5-0) scored with one second left and Elverum took a 35-34 lead into the next period.

Heldal (3-1) increased Elverum’s lead to 36-34 but Sagosen (6-11) and Rød responded and it was 36-36. Blomgren answered with 1:01 left in the period. Elverum 37-36. With 28 seconds remaining, Gudjonsson tied it up and two more five-minute periods needed to be played.

Lyse (8-6) put Kolstad in front, 38-37, 29 seconds into the period. Lukács and another 7m goal by Grøndahl gave Elverum a 39-38 lead heading into the fourth five-minute period.

Twenty seconds into the fourth period, Aaberg (8-0) tied the game at 39. Endre Langaas (4-0) gave Elverum a 40-39 lead. Magnus Gullerud evened with 42 seconds left. With two seconds left. Grøndahl took his 10th 7m shot of the game and converted his ninth, thrilling the crowd of 2,514 fans at Terningen Arena.

In the first half, Kolstad used a 10-4 run for a 13-6 lead. Elverum responded with a 12-4 run to close within 17-14 at halftime. Kolstad opened the second half with a 6-3 run for a 23-17 lead at 9:05. Then, Elverum went on a 15-9 run. With 1:27 left, Lyse gave Kolstad a 32-29 lead. Lukács scored twice, making it 32-31.

Bergerud had 17 saves.

Game 1 had its drama. Kolstad raced to a 7-1 lead after 6:08. Elverum went on a 7-2 run to draw within 9-8. Later, a 6-2 run led to Kolstad leading 18-13 at 53 seconds into the second half.

A Heldal goal with 1:31 on the clock drew Elverum within 29-28. Lyse scored with 43 seconds left for a 30-28 Kolstad lead. Bergerud (14 saves) stopped a Heidal (4-0) shot with :21 left.

Rød (8-2), Aaberg (7-0), and Sagosen (3-7) led Kolstad, while Søgaard (7-0), Grøndahl (6-3), and Søndenå (4-6) paced Elverun.

In the semifinals, #1 Kolstad beat #5 Drammen, 32-26 and 29-23; #2 Elverum beat #3 ØIF Arendal 36-35 in overtime, and 41-30. In the quarterfinals, Kolstad survived #7 Halden, winning 26-23 and 33-24; Elverum eliminated #8 Bergen 36-18 and 29-28; Arendal eliminated #6 Naerbo 33-29 and 33-28, and Drammen edged #4 Runar Sandefjord 31-30 and 28-27.

This article originally appeared in the July 2024 issue of  The Norwegian American.

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Michael Kleiner

Michael Kleiner, business and sports editor, has more than three decades of experience as an award-winning journalist and public relations professional. He has operated his own PR and web design business for small businesses, authors and community organizations in Philadelphia since 1999. Not of Norwegian descent, he lived in Norway for a year with his family at age 11 and has returned as an adult. He is the author of a memoir, Beyond the Cold: An American’s Warm Portrait of Norway, and a member of NorCham Philadelphia. Visit Kleinerprweb.com; beyondthecold.com.