Norway took a 1-0 lead in its best-of-three relegation series, beating Germany 3-0 on Thursday at Malmö Arena. Joachim Svendsen recorded a 29-save shutout.
Game Two goes Friday (16:00) at Malmö Isstadion.
The newly promoted Norwegians are aiming to avoid immediate relegation. 2014 marks Germany’s second straight year in the top division.
The Germans showed poor discipline. Their captain, Leon Draisaitl, received a second-period game misconduct for high-sticking, and that sealed their fate. Norway wound up with two power play goals.
"That’s a positive thing for us," said Norwegian captain Erlend Lesund. "We have had negative things that we’ve dealt with in this tournament. We’ve got to take the good power play we had today and bring it tomorrow too."
"We just weren’t disciplined enough," said Germany's Dominik Kahun. "We can’t win a game like this. In the first period we got too many penalties, in the second the same."
Martin Rønnild, Didrik Svendsen, and Andreas Klavestad scored for Norway.
German starter Marvin Cüpper made 21 saves in the loss.
"You can always perform better," said Cüpper. "Now we have to get back on track and focus on the next game."
Both sides came out with hustle and heart, but the first period was scoreless despite three Norwegian power plays. (The Norwegians were outscored 29-3 in the Preliminary Round and the Germans 24-7.)
The Germans had the better early opportunities. Sven Ziegler had a good shorthanded chance on a breakaway, but slapped it into Svendsen’s pads. Svendsen stopped Vladislav Filin on the doorstep a couple of minutes later.
Early in the second period, Draisaitl nearly exploited a turnover in the Norwegian end, but Svendsen was there again with his right pad. Norway’s Christoffer Rasch crumpled German forward Markus Eisenschmid with a solid open-ice hit at the Norwegian blue line.
Norway finally drew first blood at 5:06 of the second period, just nine seconds into a slashing penalty to Draisaitl. Martin Ronnild was credited with the power play goal after Ludvig Hoff’s initial attempt to stuff the puck was foiled.
Just over a minute later, the Norwegians grabbed a 2-0 lead thanks to some effective forechecking. Simon Nielsen sent a nice backhanded centering pass from behind the goal line to Didrik Svendsen, who made no mistake from the slot.
Joachim Svendsen stood tall again on a mid-period Draisaitl breakaway.
Moments later, the Norwegians took their first penalty when captain Erlend Lesund was sent off for interference in his own zone. But the German power play was negated when, with 7:57 left in the period, Draisaitl took his high-sticking major on Markus Søberg on what was shaping up to be a 2-on-0 Norwegian shorthanded rush.
"I fumbled the puck," said Draisaitl. "I tried to lift his stick and I accidentally hit his face. There was nothing really to do about that. Whoever knows me, they know I’m the least [likely] guy on the ice who wants anybody injured out there. It’s just really unlucky."
It was the Prince Albert Raiders star’s second major penalty of the tournament. Draisaitl was previously suspended one game for a hit from behind on the Team USA’s Andrew Copp.
Norway took advantage of its extended man advantage. Klavestad looped to the top of the left faceoff circle and whipped a high wrister past Cüpper for a 3-0 lead at 13:42 of the second.
Of Joachim Svendsen's shutout performance, Klavestad said: "He was very good. He has played many good games, and now he actually won the game for us. Germany had a couple of breakaways, but he stopped them."
The Germans won one game in the Preliminary Round, a 3-0 shocker over the Czechs, while the Norwegians lost four straight.
The only previous World Junior meeting between these two nations came on January 4, 2011. Norway beat Germany 3-1 in relegation play. Both were sent down that year, as the Czechs and Slovaks survived the Relegation Round as the top two finishers.
Norway has never succeeded at remaining in the top division since the IIHF adopted the playoff format in 1996. It's got a special opportunity here.
"That would be huge," said Erlund. "It would be historic. Nobody’s done this before. We’re in this situation, so we just have to enjoy it and do our best."
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)
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