Olimb brothers fire Norway to OT win
Andreas Martenson earned Norway its first win of the 2016 World Championship with an overtime strike to claim a 4-3 margin against Switzerland in Moscow.
Martenson found the net with 1:37 left to play in the extras as Norway converted a power play to secure two points as the Group A table looks more congested than ever with three points separating the Czech Republic in top spot and Norway, Switzerland, Latvia and Kazakhstan all on two points ahead of Sweden's game against Denmark tonight.
"We won the face-off and I saw Mathis [Olimb] skating with the puck," Martenson said of his winning moment. "I tried to jump into the opening and he got it to me. I just took a quick shot. Luckily it went in. I like a quick release but I usually aim over the glove."
It was a good day for Norway's Olimb brothers. Mathis and Ken Andre each scored off a pass from the other, and the elder of the two - recently playing in Switzerland with Kloten Flyers - pulled the strings on an overtime power play to claim a valuable second point for Norway as it rebounded from Saturday's 0-3 reverse against Denmark.
That was justice for the Norwegians, who were 10 seconds away from inflicting a regulation defeat on Switzerland.Trailling 1-3 going into the third, Patrick Fischer's team looked to be out of options as it struggled to add to Simon Moser's 44th-minute marker. But then came Raphael Diaz with a mighty slapshot from the point. Felicien du Bois got the crucial deflection and Moser and Nino Niederreiter provided the screen as Norway's goalie Lars Volden was left grasping at thin air and the game flew into overtime.
Mats Zuccarello admitted that was hard to endure coming so late in the game. "It was a blow for us, but give them credit," he said. "They played well and got a nice shot. It's hard to defend."
Zuccarello also talked up Norway's teamwork as the Norwegians sensed Swiss weakness and pressured the opposition.
Both teams were looking to bounce back from disappointing defeats on Saturday. Both teams fired in more than 40 shots on their opponents but yielded just two goals between them. It was time for both offences to start producing and, from the opening exchanges, they did just that.
Switzerland seized the early initiative. Anxious to redeem itself after that shock defeat against Kazakhstan the Alpine nation started at a high tempo and took an early lead thanks to Samuel Walser’s second goal of the competition. He converted his team’s first power play in the third minute, sliding the puck behind Volden after Yannick Weber’s shot caused confusion on the slot. Norway’s Mats Rosseli Olsen desperately tried to hook it off the goal line, but the video confirmed that the score was good.
A second Swiss power play soon after almost created another goal when Niederreiter found himself face-to-face with Volden but this time the goalie came up big to keep Norway within a single goal.
Despite Switzerland having the better of the play, Norway found a way back to parity when the Olimb brothers combined for the first time to score on a delayed penalty in the 15th minute. Mathis sent the puck back from the goal line and found Ken Andre on the edge of the circle. A snappy wrist shot found its way past Robert Mayer as Rosselli Olsen threw up the screen.
The second period saw few clear sights on goal at either end as the teams shared just 12 shots on goal. But Norway converted two of those chances to open up a commanding 3-1 lead thanks to Martin Roymark’s determination and more filial prowess on the power play.
There seemed to be little danger went Roymark crossed the blue line and crashed to the ice under Andreas Ambuhl’s challenge. But the puck went to Kristian Forsberg behind the goal line and the Swiss defence switched off as Roymark picked himself up and went to support the play. Forsberg’s deft backhand pass snuck through Mayer’s defences and arrived on Roymark’s stick to put Norway ahead in the 24th minute.
And a sometimes scrappy middle frame ended with Norway doubling its lead late on as the Olimbs reversed their routine from the opening goal. This time Mathis scored off Ken Andre’s feed.
Captain Ole-Kristian Tollefsen felt there was a clear difference between what had happened 24 hours earlier against Denmark. "We played with more confidence around the puck today. Yesterday we didn't capitalize on our chances and today we did," he said. "We made smarter plays and were stronger on the puck."
Switzerland needed a quick goal in the third and Simon duly delivered. Diaz thumped in the shot and heavy traffic in front of Volden’s net generated a rebound which Moser dispatched to make it a one-goal game once again.
But it was starting to look like that wouldn't be enough until du Bois' dramatic late equalizer salvaged a point.
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