Norway gives away lead in USA loss
May 3, 2011
The Norwegian national ice hockey team led 2-0 against the USA going into the last period of their World Championships match on Monday night – only to end up losing 4-2 in a heart-breaking final period.
After beating arch rivals Sweden for the first time in 49 years on Saturday, the historically superior American team was always going to be a challenge for the Norwegian underdogs. Nonetheless, letting in four goals in the last period has left many fans disappointed at the team’s failure to pull off a second huge upset.
The US side, although consisting of many American National Hockey League (NHL) players, included only one member of the squad that won Olympic gold last year. Norway themselves were significantly reduced after injuries and a number of other problems that had haunted the team both before and during the tournament. The World Championships are currently taking place in Slovakia.
Two goal lead
Norway’s first goal came after eight minutes, when Ken André Olimb picked up the puck from the left and managed to score under the goaltender – a goal that required long deliberation by the referee and video referee in order to be confirmed. The USA had very little time in which to recover from the shock before Anders Biastiansen found himself one-on-one with the American goaltender, with the Norwegian coming out on top and making the score 2-0.
In the second period, the Americans pressed Norway but could not find a way through past goaltender Lars Haugen. One player, Morgan Andersen, described Haugen as “superman” when speaking to TV channel Viasat, and his efforts ensured that Norway entered the last period of the match in a commanding position.
Third period meltdown
The third period would be a completely different story, as the gulf in class between the sides began to show. Haugen himself described the side as “passive and tired” in the last period, and the USA took advantage. The Americans scored their first after just two minutes through Nick Palmieri, who was accused by some of using his skate in order to score. After that, Norway collapsed, with Jack Skille equalizing just three minutes later. Palmier scored again to give the USA the lead, before Craig Smith completed the comeback with less than a minute remaining.
Goaltender Haugen, who was also the hero of the triumph over Sweden, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that the first 20 minutes of the team’s performance had been “world class.” He pointed to a number of penalties that the team conceded as contributing to the game turning, but admitted that “the USA showed class and we could not manage an answer,” adding that he was “extremely disappointed.” Another player, Alexander Bonsaksen, admitted that Norway had been “maybe a little scared” of the US, while manager Roy Johansen described it as “a bitter loss” despite the team’s early performance.
Norway’s next match against Austria will decide their world championships fate.