Canadian hockey fans have put a lot of hopes and dreams in their hockey teams for the Vancouver Olympics. On Tuesday night the men's team showed they are ready to go for gold.
The first period was all Grotnes, as in Norwegian goalie Pal Grotnes. The big part-time goalie and full-time carpenter reminded Canadian hockey fans of 2006 in Torino when Grotnes held Canada to a 1-1 draw until the dying minutes of the third period when Canada scored a late goal to escape with a 2-1 win. Grotnes held the Canadians off the score sheet in the first period with save after save and no rebounds to pounce on.
It's hard to imagine how good a carpenter Grotnes is that he can't make more money as a goalie somewhere in the world, but that's just the way things are in Norway. You're a carpenter, you enjoy your job and hockey is just for fun! It's been many, many years since hockey was played that way in North America and it's nice to know hockey is still played that way somewhere.
But the Canadians were owning the puck instead of the podium this game and it was only a matter of time before they started filling the net. The second period saw a quick goal by Jarome Iginla and then another by Dany Heatley on a tipped point shot from bad boy Chris Pronger. When Mike Richards jammed the puck in before the second period was half over, the rout seemed to be on.
Despite being outsized by big Canadian boys, the Norwegians played a feisty game, leveling young star Jonathan Toews and playing hard along the boards all game. Roberto Luongo, the surprise starter in goal for Canada, was rarely tested but looked confident and sharp. Norway regrouped to hold the Canadians back for the rest of the second period.
The third period continued with more Canadian attacks although Luongo stoned Thoresen at the side of the net early in the period. Thoresen, a top 10 player in points in the Russian Kontinental Hockey League, is trying to audition for a spot in the NHL next year and he was clearly the most dangerous Norwegian in this game. Grotnes was mercy pulled after Getzlaf slid in the fourth goal off a rebound on a delayed penalty call. Norway head coach Roy Johansen needs to save Grotnes for the rest of the tournament and there clearly was a Canadian Tsunami coming. On cue, Heatley then took a drop pass and top shelved a bullet while Iginla finished off a pretty passing play with Sidney Crosby and Rick Nash.