International Ice Hockey Federation

Norway looks for boost

Norway looks for boost

Olympics settled, but Paris important

Published 06.05.2017 20:02 GMT+2 | Author Andrew Podnieks
Norway looks for boost
Norway's Jonas Holos stickhandles the puck away from Finland's Jussi Jokinen. Photo: Richard Wolowicz / HHOF-IIHF Images
Norway will be going to PyeongChang, but will it do so on a high or low? Paris will provide the answers.

The Norwegians have yet to replicate their fabulous 2011 World Championship when they finished sixth (their best result since 1962), but they have maintained status in the top pool, which is also critical to the nation’s program. This year, playing in Paris alongside Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Switzerland, France, Belarus, and Slovenia, qualifying for the quarter-finals is a long shot, but avoiding relegation will be the team’s greater goal as it prepares for the 2018 Olympics.


Norway’s three goalies represent youth, middle age, and veteran quite nicely. At 30, Lars Haugen is the senior of the three starting his seventh World Championship. Indeed, he was stellar in 2011 during the team’s best run in half a century, and he’ll be the one who gets first chance to be the go-to goalie. Steffen Soberg, 23, has been part of the national team at the junior and then senior level since 2011, but has only five games of WM experience to his credit. Henrik Haukeland is the baby of the bunch. The 22-year-old played at the 2014 U20 for Norway, his only international experience.


Jonas Holos has one of the longest consecutive World Championship streaks of the modern era. This will be his 12th tournament in a row, as well as the 2010 and 2014 Olympics, so his experience will be invaluable to the defence. The other veteran is Alexander Bonsaksen, who has played every event since 2009 except last year. Beyond that, the blueliners are mostly young and hoping to learn from their mentors. Johannes Johannesen and Dennis Sveum were promising newcomers last year and hope to build on a decent start to their senior careers, and Erlund Lesund is making his senior team debut. Their task will be primarily to support Haugen et al. inside their own blue line.


Goalscoring has long been a nemesis for the Norwegians. In the last four Worlds, some 28 games, the team has managed only 53 goals, less than two a game. This puts monumental pressure on the goalies, and no team can sustain needed wins with such small output. Some of the names needed to put the puck in the net are familiar: Anders Bastiansen, Martin Roymark, Kristian Forsberg, and the Olimb brothers, Mathis and Ken Andre. Patrick Thoresen, a former NHLer who played this past year in Switzerland, will need to score, but so will some of the younger players such as Jorgen Karterud and Thomas Valkvae-Olsen, both 23, who are making their senior debuts.


Petter Thoresen has a long history in Norway as a player and coach (and father of Steffen and Patrick, two fine players in their own right). Thoresen will need to draw on all his strengths because he’s taking over for Roy Johansen, who retired after last year’s World after a marvelous 15-year career as national team coach. Thoresen will bring a new voice and approach, but he’ll have most of the same parts to work with.

Projected Results

Realistically, the Canadians, Czechs, and Finns have a lock on three quarter-finals spots, and the chances of Norway squeaking into the fourth spot is tenuous. Norway will likely have to win a couple of key games against France (May 6) and Slovenia (May 9) to avoid relegation. A finish in the 9-12 quad would be respectable.


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