Norway draws first blood with OT win over Austria
By Andrew Podnieks
MYTISCHI--Norway's Morten Ask scored at 2:22 of overtime to give his team a 3-2 win over Austria in the first game of the Relegation Round. The win gives the team two points to sit atop the standings which will determine the two teams who advance to play in Canada next year and the two which will be demoted to Division I.
Ask's goal came off a play from behind the net which confused Austrian goalie Reinhard Divis, and the puck lay in the crease for the Norwegian to sweep in unmolested.
"It's an unbelievable win," Norway's Marius Trygg said. "A win for us on Sunday means we'll be through to qualify for next year, so that's why today was so big for us."
"We started well," Austrian captain Dieter Kalt said, "but they played their system."
The first period was a sleepy affair, both sides creating few scoring opportunities. The best chance for Austria came when Oliver Setzinger came down the left wing and took a nice shot that was stopped by Norwegian goalie Pal Grotnes, who has played every minute of the tournament for Norway so far.
At the other end, Kjell Richard Nygard had a point-blank shot that was stopped by Divis, who was making his third start in four games.
Norway had an excellent opportunity to open the scoring early in the second period, but failed to capitalize on a lengthy 5-on-3 situation.
Midway through the period, Austria's Robert Lukas scored the game's first goal on the power play. It was the first time all tournament that they had scored first. Matthias Trattnig won the faceoff cleanly and wingman Philipp Lukas pushed the puck to the point, where his brother Robert let go a quick shot. The puck went through several players and past Grotnes, who had no idea where it was until the red light went on.
A short time later the Norwegians tied the game on a rare 4-on-1 rush. Jonas Andersen was the puck carrier, and he dished off to Marius Trygg. His shot was stopped by Divis, but Andersen was right there to sweep the loose puck into the net. Technically, it was a power play goal, but the damage was done when three Austrians were caught up ice.