Storhamar caps remarkable season

Team nails down hockey championship with OT goal

Storhamar

Photo: Cornelius Poppe / NTB
Storhamar’s 40-year-old legend Patrick Thoresen leads Elite Hockey League championship celebration, holding the King’s Cup with gold-helmeted and scarved teammates. His father, Petter, is the Storhamar coach.

Michael Kleiner
Business & Sports Editor
The Norwegian American

The clock was winding down, Storhamar was preparing to celebrate when Vålerenga played party pooper. With 12 seconds left in the third period of Game 5 of the Elite Hockey League championship round April 23, Christopher Bengtsson scored to tie the game 3-3. It only delayed Storhamar’s celebration 1:02 as Eirik Salsten scored 50 seconds into overtime, and the Dragons won 4-3, setting off a championship party along with a capacity crowd of 7,133 fans at CC Amfi in Hamar.

The victory put the “hamar” to the nail of a phenomenal season for Storhamar that included a 28-game winning streak, 33 regulation wins, nine overtime wins, no overtimes losses, three regulation losses, 117 points, 17 more than Stavanger, 18 more than Vålerenga, 209-76 in goals for-against. They were 12-2 in the playoffs. It was Storhamar’s first title since 2018, their eighth overall, seventh since 2000. They had lost in the finals in 2019, 2022, and 2023. A long way to go to reach the 26 championships won by  Vålerenga.

“In my ice hockey world, it doesn’t get bigger than this,”  said the 29-year-old Salsten, who had six goals and 12 assists in the playoffs,  to TV2. “I almost blacked out when I saw the puck in the goal.”

It was a triumph for father and son, Coach Petter Thoresen, and 40-year old Storhamar legend Patrick Thoresen. Patrick had two assists in the title-winning game–his 400th game with the Dragons–and finished the playoffs with six goals and nine assists in 12 games, on top of 22 goals and 42 assists for 64 points during the regular season. Thoresen played for Storhamar in 2017-2018 and since 2019-2020 but first put on the yellow-and-blue sweater in 2000-2001 at 16 years old. Storhamar won the title that year, but he was playing in the U18 World Cup during the playoffs.

“That’s so nice. I have been waiting for this for so long,” the player told TV2. “I’ve lost too many finals now. I’ve never been so nervous. I have had pain in my body and in my stomach. Now I have finally won in front of my family. This means a hell of a lot and I’m so proud of the guys,”

With Storhamar, his career stats are 126 goals, 245 assists, 391 points in the regular season, 17 goals, 37 assists, 54 points in the playoffs.

Vålerenga’s Thomas Olsen (nine goals, 10 assists in post season) scored at 3:28 of the first period with help from 18-year-old Stian Solberg (seventh playoff assist) and Bengtsson (four goals, 10 assists in playoffs)  and the 1-0 lead held up the rest of the period.

With Patrick Thoresen and Stefan Espeland (10th playoff assist) helping, Canadian Peter Quenneville (10 goals, six assists in playoffs) evened the score with a power play goal 3:44 into the second period.

At 9:19 of the third period, Samuel Solem gave the Dragons a 2-1 lead, but Magnus Henriksen tied it up again for Vålerenga with 6:56 on the clock. The draw lasted 2:21 when Jacob Berglund scored his seventh goal of the playoffs with help from Martin Rønnild and Sander Dilling Hurrød (ninth playoff assist) for a 3-2 Dragon advantage.

For Pappa Thoresen, it was his 16th championship as a player and coach for Vålerenga, Stavanger, and Storhamar. “It’s absolutely magical,” he said to TV2. “We played a good game. Luckily, we managed to score early in extra time,” said Coach Thoresen.

GAME 1 APRIL 15: 

Storhamar 5, Vålerenga 1

The Dragons jumped to a 2-0 first period lead on goals by former Vålerenga skater Villiam Strøm (10:20) and Solem (11:42).

“I’ve only played the final once before. Then I scored, too, so I know I tend to do that.” said Strøm to TV 2. “I thought it was time for a goal against Vålerenga. It means the most because it is a top match, and it’s important to get the first goal. There was a bit of euphoria there.”

Jørgen Karterud cut the Vålerenga deficit to 2-1 35 seconds into the second period. Storhamar built back the two goal lead, when Patrick Thoresen scored at 6:35 and Berg­lund scored unassisted at 18:51.

“It was an important goal. We were in a bad period in the match,” said Thoresen.

Andreas Hjelm scored the final Storhamar goal at 2:02 of the third period. Storhamar outshot Vålerenga 29-14, 22-7 in the final 40 minutes.

GAME 2 APRIL 17:

Vålerenga 5, Storhamar 2|

The venue moved to Oslo and Vålerenga turned the tables with a 5-2 victory behind a hat trick by Karterud, two goals by Alex Dostie and two assists by Bengtsson to even the series. Marcus Bryhnisveen gave Storhamar a 1-0 lead at 10:26 of the first period with an assist from Saltsen. Karterud scored his first goal 1:10 later with help from Daniel Rokseth and Tommi Taimi. The teams entered the first break 1-1.

Vålerenga scored two goals 38 seconds apart by Karterud (11:05) and Dostie (11:43) to take a 3-1 lead in the middle period.

Dostie made it 4-1 at 1:02 of the third period, but Hjelm cut the deficit to 4-2 at 3:10. Karterud completed his hat trick with 44 seconds left. Tobias Breivold had 25 saves for  Vålerenga, Markus Stensrud 17 for Storhamar.

“They had momentum at the start, but then we managed to take over and create good scoring chances,” Rokseth told TV 2. “Here at Jordal, we must win all matches, then we got to steal one at Hamar. That is the plan.”

GAME 3 APRIL 19: 

Storhamar 4, Vålerenga 1

The Dragons jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first period. Queneville scored at 4:10 with assists from Thoresen and Hurrød. Rønningen made it 2-0 with a power play goal at 17:23 with assists going to Berglund and Rønnild. Rønningen made it 3-0, scoring at 6:31 of the second with help from former Vålerenga player Andreas Martinsen and Berglund, who added an empty net goal with 2:40 left in the game. Olsen got Vålerenga on the board with six seconds left.

GAME 4 APRIL 21:

Storhamar 4, Vålerenga 2

Storhamar again jumped to an early lead, this time 33 seconds into the game on a goal by Rønningen, again assisted by Martinsen and Berglund. Vålerenga rallied to take a 2-1 lead on goals by Kalle Ekelund (14:15) and Olsen with five seconds left in the opening period..

The lead didn’t last long as Thoresen scored 1:05 into the second period with helpers from Salsten and Hurrød. The duo provided the assists again, this time on a goal by Quenneville with 48 seconds left in the second period giving the Dragons a 3-2 lead. The last tally was an empty netter by Martinsen, and Storhamar had control of the series. The Dragons outshot Vålerenga 32-17, Stensrud made 15 saves, Breivold 29.

“I have always believed that it is wise to win a match at Jordal to get a little higher,”  said Coach Thoresen to TV 2 after the Game 4 win. “Now we have done it. Then, we will have to take the rest eventually. We did it in a very nice way. We were a bit sloppy in the first period, but after that we played solidly and wisely. It’s fun that we won. Vålerenga is life-threatening on transitions, and I am relieved now.”

This article originally appeared in the June 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.