Storhamar first in Norwegian hockey
The powerhouse beats neighbor Lillehammer in five games to take the championships
Jo Christian Weldingh
Storhamar Ice Hockey Club are Norwegian ice hockey champions for the first time since 2008, after beating rivals Lillehammer 4-2 in the fifth and final game of the best-of-seven series in CC Amfi in Hamar.
There was a lot of excitement and expectation entering the game, with Storhamar holding the upper hand three games to one over its rivals Lillehammer. After 60 minutes of intense hockey, plenty of penalties, and an amazing atmosphere, Storhamar became Norwegian champions for the seventh time.
Lillehammer got off to a great start in CC Amfi when Martin Andre Ellingsen scored the first goal of the game only nine minutes into the first period. Storhamar only needed eight minutes to equalize, however. Viktor Svensson scored Storhamar’s first goal after 17 minutes of play.
The two teams were evenly matched in the first period, but after the first break Storhamar dominated the game completely. In the second period Storhamar outplayed their rivals to the north on several occasions. Josh Nicholls and Jacob Berglund scored a goal each, increasing the lead heading into the third period to 3-1.
The game got some of its excitement back in the third period when Sondre Bjerke scored to narrow Lillehammer’s deficit to 3-2. This was followed by several missed Lillehammer chances. But Storhamar was able to ride out the storm. Five seconds before the end of the third period Nicholls scored his second goal in an empty net and made Storhamar Norwegian champions for the first time in 10 years.
As expected, the Storhamar players were euphoric after securing the victory.
“It’s pure joy! It’s fantastic! I need a few days to understand what this actually means,” goal scorer Berglund said after the game. He continued to describe the game as a roller coaster. “We were nervous in the beginning, but then we got increasingly better,” he said. “We might have been a bit passive towards the end of the game, but we were able to ride out the storm.”
Storhamar’s coach, Fredrik Söderström, welled up during his post-match interview. “I’m so incredibly proud of what we have been able to do as a team and even as a city,” he said. ”I’m both relieved and euphoric!”
Mikael Kvarnström, Lillehammer’s head coach, praised his own players when he was interviewed after the game.
“We have been amazing in the playoffs,” he said. “My guys have really impressed me. We’ve beaten Vålerenga and Sparta, both very good teams, and we could just as easily have won the last three final games. Our team is very young and we’re up against more experienced players. We are the future, I truly believe that.”
Lillehammer hasn’t won the title since 1994 when they beat Storhamar in the final. Since then the club has struggled financially and almost went bankrupt on several occasions. It’s only in the last couple of seasons the club has been able to stabilize itself in the top half of the league table and consistently qualify for the playoffs. This year’s final is their first since the classic 1994 victory.
Jo Christian Weldingh grew up in Lillehammer, Norway, and lives in Oslo. He has a bachelor’s degree in archaeology from the University of Oslo and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from BI Norwegian Business School.
This article originally appeared in the May 4, 2018, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.