Austria took to the ice against Norway today in the Olympics, and it was both teams final preliminary round match-up in Group B. The two teams were both at the bottom of the group, and neither had one a game so far – both lost to Canada and Finland. The game would determine who would be third in the group behind Canada and Finland. Puck drop was at noon local Sochi time, 3:00 AM EST.
The Austrians opened up the scoring early, Michael Grabner put one in the back of the net just 4 minutes and 27 seconds into the game. A little over 2 minutes later the Austrians doubled their lead, as Michael Raffl scored on the power play – assisted by Grabner. The first period would come to a close with the Team Austria up by 2 goals.
In the second period Team Norway would cut the lead in half, with Per-Age Skroder scoring 8 minutes into the period. Unfortunately it wouldn’t be enough momentum to get an equalizer throughout the rest of the game for Team Norway. The Austrians scored an insurance goal as well, Grabner netted his second of the night with a little more than 90 seconds left in the game. The Norwegians pulled their goaltender in a final effort, but nothing came of the the extra skater advantage. Final score, Austria 3, Norway 1.
Mathias Lange made 34 saves for the out-shot Austrian team, and Lars Haugen made 24 saves in the loss for Norway. The story of the game, and the Olympics as a whole for Team Austria, has been Michael Grabner – 2 goals and 1 assist today.
Groups A and B finish their preliminary play today, and then on February 18th the men’s playoffs begin.