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Norway holds its own -- for 22 minutes

by Shawn P. Roarke
VANCOUVER -- Norway tried out the giant-killing role on Tuesday and found it to their liking -- at least for 20 minutes.
The Norwegians were expected to be canon fodder for Team Canada, the host team, in Tuesday afternoon's Group A game at a packed and rabidly pro-Canadian Canada Hockey Place. And, in the end, the Norwegians fulfilled their assigned role, losing 8-0.
But, for 22 glorious minutes, the Norwegians were Canada's improbable equal, an amazing turn considering that Norway did not have a NHL player in its lineup on Tuesday.
Mats Zuccarello Aasen, one of Norway's best players Tuesday night, was pleasantly surprised to walk into the dressing room after the first period with Canada still looking for its first goal.
"We should have credit after the first period," Zuccarello Aasen told "We played really well. The defense played real well. We got a good boost after that period. They are a superstar team, a strong team and they outwork us in the end."
But, then reality hit in a most unpleasant manner. Jarome Iginla started the rout at the 2:30 mark of the second period when he slammed a slap shot past valiant Norwegian goalie Pal Grotnes, who stopped all 14 first-period shots.
Grotnes left with leg cramps after allowing a fourth goal, to Ryan Getzlaf, early in the third period.
"I couldn't move there in the end," the goalie said.
But, he made an impression before departing.
"He was standing on his head in the first period," defenseman Tommy Jakobsen, the team captain, said.
Even before Grotnes was removed, though, Norway knew the dream had died.
"They are a superstar team, a strong team and they outworked us in the end," Zuccarello Aasen told "They play games like this, at this high level, 82 games a year and we didn't manage to keep up with them. We did what we could and we are not good enough at this moment."
Despite the disappointment of not keeping the game close, Zuccarello Aasen said that Tuesday night's experience will rank among the best of his hockey life.
"Of course, to play against all these stars," he said, smiling. "This is something I can tell my grandkids about."

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