Stavanger Oilers drill Storhamar in finals
A long-awaited playoff run comes to pass
Business and Sports Editor
The Norwegian American
There would be no ice hockey hat trick this playoff season and the Stavanger Oilers were happy about that. In 2020, the Oilers had completed a historic regular season that featured a club record of earning a point in each of the first 17 games. There was a nine-game winning streak and seven-game winning streak. They breezed to 34 regulation wins, four overtime wins, three overtime losses, four regulation losses for 113 points, 23 ahead of second-place Storhamar.
They were primed to make a playoff run that they hoped would end with their eighth championship. That was the fateful March week when the entire sports world shut down because of the coronavirus.
Last season reached Jan. 9, 2021. Stavanger was overcoming a slow start. Nine points separated first-place Storhamar and fifth-place Lillehammer. A coronavirus epidemic swept through the league. Sparta Sarpsborg had seven games scrapped at that point. On Jan. 11, Stjernen reported 20 cases, Stavanger reported 15. The season was paused. Officials kept meeting to determine how many regular season games they could play to have the playoffs end on time. Finally, they had to scrap the season and the playoffs for the second straight year.
This season, the Oilers put together another dominant season: 30 regulation wins, six overtime wins, three overtime losses, six regulation losses, 162-89 goal differential, 105 points, 20 better than second-place Sparta Sarpsborg, 88 better than last-place Manglerud. This time, there was a post-season. Stavanger swept eighth seed Ringerike in four games (6-0, 7-0, 2-1, 5-1), outlasted second-seed Sparta Sarpsborg in seven games (5-4, 2-3, 1-2, 2-1, 3-2, 1-2, 2-0) in the semifinals. That set up a championship round with rival Storhamar, who reached as the seventh seed, eliminating fifth seed Vålerenga in six games (2-5, 3-2, 4-3, 1-2, 4-3, 5-1) and third seed Stjernen in five games (5-2, 2-1, 1-2, 5-0, 3-2).
The Oilers drilled Storhamar in four games, outscoring them 16-5. The clincher was 5-2 on April 24 in front of 6,476 people at the CC Amfi in Hamar.
The teams were even after the first period 1-1. Eskild Bakke Olsen put Storhamar on the board with a goal 3:55 into the game. American Dan Kissel evened the count at 12:47 with assists from American Steven Whitney and Canadian Jarrett Burton. The Oilers took advantage of their chances in the second period as Whitney scored at 2:10 on passes from Ludvig Hoff and Andreas Klavestad, and American Greg Mauldin upped the lead to 3-1 with 17 seconds left with help from Daniel Bøen Rokseth and Klavestad. Andre Bjelland Strandborg (2:02) and a power play goal by Burton (13:16) completed the Stavanger scoring in the third period.
They had the elusive eighth title—all since 2010—tying them with The Forward, seven of whose titles came when they were known as Old Town, for second most in Norwegian hockey. The Oilers won seven straight from 2010-2017, but they have a long way to go to catch Vålerenga, which has 26.
“It means a lot,” said Oilers board chair Tore Christiansen to TV2. “There have been some tough years with the corona and canceled playoffs. Everyone should take credit for this.”
“We have been completely raw and played incredibly well. I’m proud,” said 32-year-old veteran Tommy Kristiansen. “We have broken wrists and broken knees. We do everything to win, and then it’s extra delicious. This is the best thing that can happen. It is one of the best golds I have been in. This was for the whole of Rogaland.”
The series started with a 6-0 rout April 18 in front of 3,790 Oiler fans at DNB Arena with Burton, Hoff, Mauldin, American Rob Bordson, Kristiansen, and Whitney scoring the goals and Kissel and Klavestad providing two assists each. Games 2 and 3 were tighter. Martin Lefebvre gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead at 5:17 of the second period, but at 5:49 of the third, veteran Patrick Thoresen equalized. A power play goal by Whitney with 6:39 left gave Stavanger a 2-1 win in front of 6,318 disappointed fans at the Amfi. Back home in front of 4,250 fans at DNB, the Oilers scored three times in the second period by Bordson, Kristiansen, and Kissel, then hung on for a 3-2 win after Josh Nicholls scored with 24 seconds left in regulation.
Kissel led all scorers in the playoffs with 6 goals, 10 assists, 16 points, followed by Whitney (7-8-15), Nicholls (8-5-13), Klavestad (2-11-13), Burton (8-4-12), Hoff, and Christoffer Karlsen (3-9-12). That type of balanced scoring was indicative of the season. Burton led the team in scoring (22-27-49), which was good for sixth in the league, followed by Kissel (18-27-45, 12th), Karlsen (21-20-41, 14th), Markus Søberg (15-19-34, 27th), Whitney (12-18-30, 33rd) and Lefebvre (7-23-30, 35th). Hans Kristian Jakobsson of Sparta Sarpsborg led the league with 67 points (27-40), followed by David Morley of Frisk Asker (18-47-65) and his teammate, Viktor Granholm (league best 33 goals, 19 assists, 52 points) and Thoresen (20-32-52).
But COVID-19 has not disappeared.
“First of all, I would like to congratulate Stavanger,” said Thoresen to NTB. “We have made Stavanger very good, because we have not been close to our potential. We will not take anything from them, but I think the disease we got at Easter put us a bit out of play.”
Photos: Javad Parsa / NTB
This article originally appeared in the May 27, 2022, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.