Islanders forward Michael Grabner led Team Austria with two goals and one assist to a 3-1 victory over Norway early Sunday morning. The win sealed a third seed in the four-team Group C and a date with Slovenia in the qualification round on Tuesday.
After playing on separate lines the first two games of the tournament, Grabner played alongside fellow Islanders forward Thomas Vanek in Sunday’s game. Although Vanek didn’t find his name on the scoresheet, the results proved to be successful as Austria picked up its first win and Grabner became the tournament’s first player to reach five goals.
Former New York Islanders defenseman Thomas Pock earned the primary assist on Grabner’s first goal of the game at 4:27 of the first period. His second goal came on a breakaway with just 1:37 to seal the game for “The Eagles.”
Many speculated that the speedy Grabner would excel on the wider international ice surface. The statistics seem to have proven that so far, but the first-time Olympian doesn’t attribute his goal-scoring prowess to the extra room.
"I think it is harder on the big ice," Grabner told NHL.com. "The d-men stay a little further back, so you have to make up more ground. In the NHL, you take a couple steps and you're behind them."
The tournament becomes single elimination beginning with Tuesday’s qualification round. Should Austria defeat Slovenia, Grabner, Vanek and the rest of the squad will face the overall number one seed in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.
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