International Ice Hockey Federation

Making the plays

Making the plays

Olimb shoulders Norway attack

Published 14.05.2014 12:41 GMT+3 | Author Peter Westermark
Making the plays
Norway's Mathis Olimb (right) pulls the puck away from Italy's Nathan di Casmirro. Photo: Richard Wolowicz / HHOF-IIHF Images
Norway came in to the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship looking for new players to carry a bigger load offensively.

For Mathis Olimb, it’s more a case of an even bigger load, as he has been a key in Norway’s success for many years.

”I always want to contribute offensively on any team that I’m on,” said Olimb about his expanded role as established Norwegian star players are missing due to injury, like Patrick Thoresen, or still involved in the National Hockey League playoffs, like Mats Zuccarello.

“For me, the main difference is that I’m on the first power play unit now. But I don’t feel that we have ever been a team that has been relying on any individual stars. We try to keep the pressure on our opponent using four lines, and that’s what signifies us.”

Through the first three games, he has three assists skating on a line with kid brother Ken Andre and captain Anders Bastiansen, who has scored one goals each so far.

“We are supposed to score goals and have that expectation on ourselves, so it’s good to have gotten it done right away,” said Olimb.

First and foremost a playmaker, the 28-year-old Olimb has always recorded more assists than goals, wherever he has played. With the national team, he has five goals and 27 assists in 44 World Championship games to date, spanning seven tournaments and dating back to the 2007 tournament in Moscow. With club team Frolunda Gothenburg of the SHL, he was the club’s top scorer this past season and twelfth in the league with 11 goals and 28 assists.

”I’m feel like I’m in good shape and that my legs are working well,” he explained. “The games keep coming quick at a tournament like this, so I’m ready for the next game.”

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So far, Norway’s success has come in different forms. In the first game versus Italy, a 3-0 win, the defense shone, just like it did in yesterday’s 2-1 loss to perennial powerhouse Sweden. Norway has also been able to rely on some solid goaltending from both Lars Haugen and youngster Steffen Soberg. The latter saved 33 shots in his championship debut yesterday versus Sweden in a heroic effort.

If a strong defensive game and quick turnovers are important parts of Norway’s game at even strength, they compliment it with a strong unit on the power play. In Norway’s 4-3 come-from-behind win over Denmark, the man advantage was a key to the victory, scoring twice.

On the first unit, Olimb is joined by four veterans: Bastiansen and Per-Age Skroder up front, Mats Trygg and Jonas Holos on the blue line.

“We have a several good play makers to put out there on the power play and that helps a lot,” said Skroder, who is more of a goal-scorer than anything else.

With two victories in the bag early on in Group A play, the pesky team makes no secret of the fact that they aim for yet another quarter-final berth. And they aren’t about to change their style of playing.

“We have our style and it may not be pretty,” continued Skroder. “But that’s the way we have to play if we are to have success at the tournament.”

Olimb and the rest of the Norwegian crew are on board.


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