Will Dragons ice great season?

Storhamar, Vålerenga in another hockey final matchup

Dragons

Photo: Carina Johansen / NTB
Daniel Bøen Rokseth rejoices after he gave Vålerenga the lead 4-3 in Game 7 of the semifinal between the Stavanger Oilers and Vålerenga in DNB Arena in Stavanger.

Michael Kleiner
Business & Sports Editor
The Norwegian American

It’s down to Storhamar and Vålerenga in the Elite Hockey championship round, which was scheduled to begin April 15 at Storhamar’s CC Amfi. They have a storied post-season rivalry including several meetings in the final round.

Storhamar, however, was attempting to win its first title since 2018, which was its sixth since 2000. The Dragons lost in the finals in 2019, 2022, and 2023.

Vålerenga attempted to win its first title since 2009, which was its seventh in 11 years.

Both teams had impressive winning streaks during the season. Vålerenga had an 11-gamer, but Storhamar demolished that, capturing 28 in a row, finishing with 33 regulation wins, 9 overtime wins, 0 overtime losses, 3 regulation losses, 117 points, a goal differential of 209-76. Vålerenga finished third (31-2-2-10-99, 190-121), a point behind Stavanger (31-1-5-8-100, 165-92).

Each team had some adversity to overcome in the semifinals.

No. 3 Vålerenga beats No. 2 Stavanger, four games to three

Stavanger and Vålerenga played a classic Game 7, April 12. There were three ties. The team from Oslo outshot the Oilers 39-32, Tobias Breivold garnering 28 saves, Stavanger’s Henrik Holm stopping 33 pucks.

It had a late winning goal, as Vålerenga’s Tommi Taimi, scored the team’s third power play goal of the game with 49 seconds left to propel Vålerenga to a 5-4 victory and a spot in the finals.

Stavanger had won nine of the last 13 championships, including the last two.

Mathias Trettenes (1st) and Andre Strandborg (2nd) scored power play goals and the Oilers  led 2-0. Vålerenga scored three straight goals for a 3-2 lead starting with Stian Solberg’s goal 13 seconds after Strandborg’s goal at 5:16 of the second.

At 15:22, Christoffer Karlsen was assessed a slashing penalty and five seconds later Clifford Watson went to the penalty box for delay of game. Vålerenga had a 5-on-3. Thomas Olsen scored at 16:17 and Solberg at 17:14. Tristin Langan evened  the score at 3 at 8:20 of the third period. Vålerenga took a 4-3 lead as Daniel Rokseth tallied at 13:23. Ludvig Hoff evened the score again with 3:59 left.

Stavanger evened the series in Game 6 with a 5-3 win. Langan had two goals and Anthony Salinitri a goal and an assist for the Oilers. Martin Røymark had two goals, Taimi two assists as  Vålerenga won Game 5, 3-2. Røymark scored his second goal 50 seconds into overtime and Game 4 went to Vålerenga 4-3. Røymark’s first goal tied the game with 1:03 left in regulation. Strandborg and Hoff had a goal and an assist, Holm 26 saves as Stavanger won Game 3, 4-0. Mika Partanen scored at 10:06 of overtime in Game 2, for a 2-1 Vålerenga victory. Stavanger took Game 1, 4-1 as Hoff scored two goals, Karlsen had three assists, Strandborg a goal and two assists and Holm  26 saves. Breivold stopped 40 shots for Vålerenga.

Dragons

Photo: Carina Johansen / NTB There were plenty of high spirits in Vålerenga’s locker room after they won 5-4 in Game 7 in the semifinal between the Stavanger Oilers and Vålerenga at the DNB Arena in Stavanger.

No. 1 Storhamar takes No. 5 Frisk Asker in five games

There were some high-scoring games and tight affairs, and the average score was 3-2 Storhamar. The Dragons were forewarned. The teams faced each other twice during the last couple of weeks of the regular season. The teams went to overtime in the first game with Storhamar prevailing. In the last game of the regular season, Frisk Asker (23-2-5-15-78, 167-129) ended the Dragons’ 28-game winning streak.

The clinching 3-1 victory in Game 5 was a relief. Peter Quenneville scored 2 goals, and Markus Stensrud made 20 saves for Storhamar.

The Dragons took the first two games, 5-3 and 6-5. In Game 1, the 30-year old Canadian, Quenneville, scored at 5:30 of the first period with assists from Patrick Thoresen and Sander Hurrød for a 1-0 Storhamar lead. Magnus Geheb tied it for Frisk Asker 1:16 into the second period.

Martin Johnsen, 20, restored Storhamar’s lead 15:15 into the second period.

Frisk Asker wouldn’t go away and Petter Andersen evened the score, 2-2, with seven seconds left in the second period.

Tobias Lindström gave FA the lead at 11:49 of the third period. Storhamar scored three goals in 2:50: a power play by Stefan Espeland (16:06), goal by Eirik Salsten (17:12), and an empty net goal by Johnsen (18:56). Storhamar outshot FA 34-20. Salsten went 1-2, Thoresen 3A, Johnsen 2G.

Game 2 was another wild affair with 5 ties. Storhamar prevailed 6-5. Lindström went off for tripping at 2:20 of overtime. Marcus Bryhnisveen scored unassisted two seconds later to give Storhamar the victory.

Tobias Fladeby scored a power play goal at 1:51 after Salsten was called for roughing seven seconds into the game. FA had a 1-0 lead. Hurrød evened the score at 4:53 with assists from Andreas Dahl and Kenneth Gulbrandsen. That’s the way it stood after the first 20 minutes. Each team scored three goals in the middle period, Eskil Wold (7:43, 2-2), Lindström (15:46, 3-3), and short-handed by Mats Frøshaug (18:21, 4-3) for FA; Hurrød (4:46, 1-2), Quenneville (8:35, 2-3) and Martin Rønnild (power pnlay 19:12, 4-4) for Storhamar. Anton Holm gave FA a 5-4 lead at 4:22 of the final period, but Espeland tied it for Storhamar at 9:55.

Michael Haga scored 15:16 into overtime, Mitch Gillam made 36 saves as Frisk Asker took Game 3, 2-1. Jacob Berglund, Quenneville had first-period goals, Stensrud had 22 saves as Storhamer blanked Frisk Asker 2-0 in Game 4.

This article originally appeared in the May 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.