For Norway, simply being here in Western New York is an accomplishment in itself.
It's been five years since Norway was in the World Juniors. The country has never medaled at the event.
But, of course, the Norwegians were in no mood for perspective after getting blindsided by Sweden, 7-1, Sunday at Dwyer Arena in Lewiston. Failing to generate any offense all game, Norway was lucky the score wasn't worse. A despondent forward Andreas Stene says that his team cannot just show up.
"Our defense struggled a little bit," Stene said. "They were forechecking us pretty hard. It's something we have to work on."
Thanks to goalie Lars Volden, the unlikely visitors kept it at 2-0 after the first period. Volden made 39 saves, many with a high degree of difficulty. Eirik Borresen's goal to make it 6-1 easily elicited the loudest cheers of the day in the arena. Norway was somewhat of a crowd favorite at Niagara University.
But by then, it was far too late. Next up is the Czech Republic at Dwyer today at 7 p.m. While those cheers were nice, Stene wants more.
"We can't be tourists here," Stene said. "We just have to play hockey."
Ellis gets a bounce
Canadian team captain Ryan Ellis has already proved in two previous world championship events that he's got a nice offensive touch.
He entered Sunday's game against Russia with two goals, 13 assists for 15 points but can thank the hockey gods for being able to increase his totals. Ellis received a gift goal in the second period when his point shot through traffic missed the lower right corner of the net but found its way in after the puck caromed off the dasher and ricocheted into the goal off the back of Russian goalie Igor Bobkov's skate as he was sliding to the post.
"I couldn't get it through. They did a pretty good job of getting in my lane to block it," Ellis said. "The boards are hard all week. [I] was just [hoping] to bank it, hit a guy in front and maybe get on one of our guys' tape. Just a lucky bounce, it went in and we were fortunate for that."
A new Foligno leap
Western New York-born Marcus Foligno scored and jumped for joy after the tally but not the signature Foligno leap most Buffalo Sabres hockey fans remember.
Foligno jumped into the glass and celebrated with his teammates after tying the game at 1 in the first period on the power play after depositing a rebound of a Louis LeBlanc shot.
"I got some height on that jump. I kind of just wanted to celebrate with the Canadian fans," he said. "Hopefully one day when I'm playing here for Buffalo then I'll do the Mike Foligno jump."
Even though Sweden dominated its game against Norway from start to finish, coach Roger Ronnberg knows his team didn't truly flex its muscle until the third period.
That's when his forwards turned the jets on and Sweden's identity was clear.
"In the third period, we were more relaxed," Ronnberg said. "We had more offense and the guys were into the game more."
The Swedes' goals came in flurries in their 7-1 win over Norway. The Norwegians were left lunging at Sweden forwards throughout the game, once resulting in a penalty shot that missed. To knock off Canada, Team USA and the fellow heavyweights, Sweden knows it must rely on an uptempo style.
"We have a very fast team here," Ronnberg said. "The guys are really good skaters. I think we have what it takes to win those games."
Compiled by Tyler Dunne