Norway picked up its second win in as many days in Para ice hockey at PyeongChang 2018 on Wednesday (14 March), thanks to a hat-trick from nine-time Paralympian Rolf Einar Pedersen. The 6-1 defeat of Japan moves Norway on to the fifth-place game.
Forty-eight year old Pedersen has been competing at the Winter Paralympics in a variety of sports since the Innsbruck 1988 Games and his experience came through when Norway needed it most.
“It’s always nice to help the team to victory, and it was very important to win today so we can fight for fifth place,” Pedersen said. “Although I have competed in many Paralympics before, for me it is always about creating new things for this team, and today we managed to produce a new victory.”
Forward Audun Bakke broke out as another potent goalscorer for Norway at last year’s World Championships and has kept on pace at these Paralympics, notching his second score of the tournament 2:25 into the game against Japan to give his team the early 1-0 advantage. Pedersen doubled Norway’s lead with 5:23 left in the first when he scored with ease right in front of the crease off a pass from Magnus Bogle.
Early in the second period, Vancouver 2010 silver medallist Kazuhiro Takahashi connected for a shorthanded goal on Japan’s first shot attempt of the entire night, slimming Norway’s lead to one. It only took 14 seconds for Norway to answer, as Bogle skated around the entire net, whipping the puck in for his third goal at these Paralympic. Just 16 seconds after that, Pedersen regained control of the puck and came charging to the top of the crease to score his second of the game; and then 1:07 later, Bakke mimicked Pedersen’s play for another goal of his own to make it 5-1 in favour of Norway.
Pedersen completed his hat-trick within the first six minutes of the final period and Norway completed the game without committing any penalties.
Norway’s Christian Kjell Hamar, brought into the sport by Pedersen, was the winning goaltender with five stops, while Japan’s Shinobu Fukushima had seven saves before being replaced by Kazuya Mochizuki.
While Norway will now face the Czech Republic in the fifth-place game on Friday (16 March) and Japan will challenge Sweden in the seventh-place game, it will be the first time Norway will not compete in the medal round at the Paralympics.
“Our goal was of course to fight for medals, but when we tumbled against Italy we shifted the focus and tried to go for the fifth-place game, so this win was very important for us,” Norwegian head coach Espen Hedge said. “Rolf was back to his old self tonight – a dominant offensive defenceman who scores goals and creates a lot of opportunities for us. So, nonetheless, I’m very happy. ”
Every competition as well as the Opening and Closing Ceremonies can be watched live right here on the International Paralympic Committee’s website. Highlights of each day’s action will also be made available.