Norway’s national ice hockey side thrashed Austria 5-0 on Wednesday in the decisive group game of their International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championship campaign so far, meaning that the team will progress to the next stages of the tournament.
So far in the competition, Norway beat arch Scandinavian rivals Sweden for the first time in 49 years on the weekend, before giving away a 2-0 lead to lose 4-2 to a far superior USA side on Monday night. The game against Austria was therefore crucial for the Norwegians as part of the Preliminary Round of the tournament, and victory means that Norway will advance to the next Qualifying Round.
Three goals in four minutes
Eerikki Koivu, Mathis Olimb and Jonas Holøs scored three goals in four minutes in the very first period of the game, stamping Norway’s dominance on the match right from the beginning. Lars Erik Spets and Anders Bastiansen supplied the fourth and fifth goals in the second and third periods respectively to give the side a convincing win that secured their continued participation in the championships.
Bastiansen was Norway’s most important player, adding three assists to his goal and masterminding much of the team’s offensive play. He told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that the win was “insanely big” for the team. Goaltender Lars Haugen, who put in world class performances in the games against Sweden and the USA, told TV channel Viasat that Norway “has achieved the most important goal” by avoiding the Relegation Round that would have awaited them after a loss.
Canada, France and Switzerland next
Norway will now go into a new group as part of the next round, known as the Qualifying Round, with Canada, France and Switzerland. They will carry two points with them from the previous overtime win against Sweden, as points are only kept from games played against nations that also advance. This means that the three points gained in the win over Austria will not be carried forward.
The team could have a headache going into the next phase of the tournament after Martin Laumann Ylven injured a knee in a bad tackle by Austrian Philippe Lakos. Lakos received a match penalty and was ejected as a result. Ylven has injured the knee before and will be unlikely to feature in the upcoming fixtures. Norway has already suffered from an injury crisis both before and during the tournament, requiring a number of players to play out of position and deputize for others.
Jonas Holøs, one of the Norwegian players who plays in the American National Hockey League (NHL), told NRK that “on a good day, we can beat both France and Switzerland, and we are optimistic about securing a place in the quarter final.”