The Norwegian national ice hockey team has moved a step closer to qualifying for the Quarter Finals of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championship with a nervous but impressive 3-2 victory over Switzerland.
The victory means that the Norwegians have five points in their Qualifying Round group, which manager Roy Johansen believes could already be enough to progress to the next phase. Norway qualified from the Preliminary Round after wins over Austria and Sweden, who they beat for the first time in 49 years.
Norway started the game well, scoring their first two goals through a deflected Jonas Holøs effort and Per-Åge Skrøder to earn an early 2-0 lead. The Swiss reacted well to going down, taking command of the second period and eventually pulling one back through Thibaut Monnet.
In the third period, Norway extended their lead through Kristian Forsberg on the rebound, but the Swiss managed a second after a good spell of pressure to ensure a tense final few minutes. Norway nonetheless held on for the win, with their man of the tournament so far, goaltender Lars Haugen, and the defense as a whole holding off a desperate last Swiss onslaught.
‘Enough’ to qualify
Johansen told TV channel Viasat that the result was “absolutely amazing.” Addressing the possibility that five points may be enough to secure qualifying, he said that “there are many theories, but it can probably be enough.” Nonetheless, he promised the team “will play each match as if our lives depended on it.” Holøs, one of the goalscorers, suggested that Norway “has one foot in the quarter finals.”
Captain Ole-Kristian Tollefsen told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that a strong team spirit was responsible for Norway’s surprisingly good performances. “This is an insanely good team and we enjoy ourselves massively,” he commented. Holøs agreed, adding that “we sacrifice everything for each other and that leads to good results.”
Norway will next face Canada on Saturday, with their final game of the Qualifying Round group against France on Monday. Goal scorer Forsberg, speaking to Viasat, described Canada as “a good side,” but added that “they probably won’t underestimate us now.”