March 16th 2017, playoff quarter finals, game 7;
Storhamar Hockey vs Sparta Warriors 0-1 (0-1, 0-0, 0-0)
Sparta scored the lone goal of the first period in what was a surprisingly open affair. In stead of waiting in the neutral zone, both teams put high pressure on the opponent, and lots of scoring opportunities were created on both sides. Sparta’s chances almost all of them didn’t hit the goal, so their shots on goal stats weren’t too impressive. But the white dressed Warriors had a few just outside the posts, straight over the crossbar and such as well. Oskar Östlund in the Storhamar net had to work hard, and he let in one towards the end of the frame when veteran Henrik Malmström placed a beauty up in the top corner in a powerplay. Storhamar had lots in offence as well, but huge chances were missed by Christian Larrivée, Henrik Zettergren times three, Alexander Reichenberg and Daniel Hermansson. Samuel Ward in net seemed to be in the zone, and by his performance the Sparta goalie sent a clear message to the home team. They would have to do something special to beat him tonight. Shots on goal: 10-2.
The 2nd act was two-sided. Sparta were the better team during the first half and controlled the run of play. Storhamar were effectively stopped in the neutral zone and couldn’t create anything of danger in offence, while the Warriors created som fuzz In front of Östlund every now and then, especially during an early powerplay. The Swedish Storhamar goalie had to come up with a couple of big saves to keep the score at one, and luckily he did. From the half way point the «Yellows» came higher and could have capitalised more than once. But the ice hockey Gods were on Sparta’s and Samuel Ward’s side, so the open net shots were saved or were somehow missed by the home players. The visitors blocked shots in every shift, and the hosts also made some wrong choices in the finishing and passing game due to that. Two powerplays were also wasted, Ward was high and low, so the odd goal from the first period was still the only goal of the game. Shots on goal: 8-6 to Sparta.
Sparta played off the third period brilliantly and kept Storhamar on the outside for the whole inning. Their trap system worked perfectly and the «Yellows» couln’t find ways through. Towards the end the goalie was pulled for a final push, and Hampus Gustafsson came closest to scoring when a cross ice dish fed him in the low crease. But the Swede managed to misfire the huge chance to make it all square, on an open net. So… Game, set, match and the quarterfinal match series 4-3 to Sparta Warriors. Shots on goal in the 3rd frame: 5-2.
We congratulate the Sparta Warriors and wish them well for the rest of the playoffs.
Sparta Warriors vs Storhamar Hockey 4-1 (0-0, 2-0, 2-1)
Sparta were the more aggressive team during the first period, but they couldn’t capitalise on their chances. That included a couple of powerplays as well. Storhamar goalie, Oskar Östlund, stood his ground when needed, and he held his team at level terms when the Warriors pushed on. At the other end Samuel Ward didn’t have to come up with his best until a one man advantage for the «Yellows» towards the end of the frame. Storhamar racked up 3-4 huge chances during a one minute spell, but Sparta’s netminder took care of business. Even after one period. Shots on goal: 14-10.
The second act was almost one way traffic towards the Storhamar net. The whole period seemed like a long Sparta attack except for a powerplay to the visitors during the dying minutes. Christian Bull missed an open net from the backdoor during that spell, and that was almost everything the visitors could dish up. Martin Blakseth Huse also had a scoring chance just after he had served a minor penalty, but the centerman didn’t have the legs to make the most of it. His backhander was easily saved by Samuel Ward. But, as mentioned, almost all the action went on at the other end. Oskar Östlund had to be high and low to keep his team somewhat in the game, but still he had to give up two goals. The first one, a skate deflection by Henrik Malmström, and the second, a onetimer from Patrik Bovim’ stick after an odd man rush, assisted by Niklas Roest. Sparta seemed to have more juice than Storhamar all over, clearly they had made the most out of recovering from last game’s marathon. The game could easily have been killed by the Warriors in this period, but Östlund made sure that his team had a chance for a comeback in the third. Shots on goal in the 2nd inning: 7-2.
Storhamar tried to lift their game from the get-go in the third act, and it paid off as Joakim Jensen’s onetimer from the side cut the lead in half. The goal came in a powerplay 5 minutes into it, and the «Yellows» got their boost. The period went along with chances both ways, but when Sparta’s Joachim Nermark gave the hosts a new two goal lead it was all over. The Warrior scored from the blue crease after a long shift in offence, and the Storhamar players lost the edge after that. Daniel Öhrn added an emptynetter in the last minute to cement the win which also tied the playoff series to 3-3. Shots on goal in the third: 11-11.
Game seven here we come!
Storhamar Hockey vs Sparta Warriors 2-1 8OT (World record length!!)
(0-0, 1-0, 0-1, 0-0, 0-0, 0-0, 0-0, 0-0, 0-0, 0-0, 1-0)
Storhamar were the better team in the first period but couldn’t solve the Samuel Ward code in net. Huge chances were wasted, in order by Daniel Hermansson, Joey Tenute, Joakim Jensen, Alexander Reichenberg and Lars Løkken Østli. The puck just wouldn’t find its way past Ward who also played on top of his game. At the other end Sparta could only manage 2 shots on goal during the entire frame, but the visitors were still happy with the result since it showed status quo after twenty. Shots on goal were 9-2.
The second act was a much more evenly played affair, but the hosts managed to break the deadlock when Erik de la Rose hammered home a blast from downtown which found the far top corner. It looked like Ward in net was screened on the play, and the Swede couldn’t do anything. The run of play contained duells and grittyness all over, but still both goalies had to come up big on a few occasions. Storhamar were deservingly up by one goal after two periods, but still the game was totally open. Shots on goal in the second frame were 7-7.
The third period continued in the same fashion, but this time it was Sparta that scored the only goal of the frame. The goal came early, by Henrik Knold who scored from the doorstep after a nice pass from Patrick Eriksson. Both teams could have stolen it during some high pressure spells, but no-one could capitalise when the opportunities rose. Still it felt like the Warriors had the edge going into overtime, just as it felt in game 1 in this series. Shots on goal in the 3rd period: 10-8 in favour of Sparta.
The first overtime period was evenly played with end-to-end stuff. Both teams had some huge chances to win it, but somehow the puck bounced or a stick came in the way every time. So neither team managed to capitalise. Just before the buzzer Joey Tenute took a minor penalty for high stick, which meant that the Warriors would start the 2nd overtime period in a one man advantage. Shots on goal: 8-6 to Storhamar.
The second overtime period was a copy of the first. Lots of chances both ways, great goalkeeping and some frustrating moments for the fans. Sparta came close to deciding it during the early one man advantage, but some heroic defending by the yellow dressed men, and a goalie in the zone, kept it even. The home crowd made lots of noise during the frame, to lift their team, and the «Yellows» responded with a late push in offence. But it wasn’t to be, so another overtime period awaited. Shots on goal in the period were 14-10 in favour of the visitors.
The third overtime period didn’t contain as much chances as the two first ones. Both teams lacked fatigue so it became more of a scrappy game in which both teams just waited for faults by the other team. No goals, a couple of huge saves from both goalies and lots of nerves on the ice and in the stands. When the 5:58 mark of the 6th period was passed, a new Storhamar club record in game length was set, the former record a 5-4 3OT loss in a championship final game versus Vålerenga in the 99-00 playoffs (Storhamar later went on to win the cup). Shots on goal in the period were 10-8 for the hosts.
The 4th overtime period should have decided the affair. Sparta were the better team, and the «Yellows» seemed quite flat. Every time Storhamar gained puck control, it was wasted by faulty passes or bad decisions. Sparta weren’t much better, but they were at least one notch up compared to the hosts. Oskar Östlund kept Storhamar in it during this frame, but the tendency wasn’t good for the home team or fans. Shots on goal were 7-4 in favour of the visitors.
The 5th overtime period also ended scoreless, unbelievably so. Monstrous chances were wasted on both sides, the goalies were brilliant and also had good fortune on several occasions. Storhamar were the better team overall, but Sparta were also dangerous in parts of the frame. So this fairytale continued for another overtime period, the 6th, and the Norwegian all time record was broken during the 5th. Shots on goal in the 5th OT period were 12-11 to the «Yellows».
The 6th overtime period ended as the previous ones, goalless. Da Capo. Status quo. Both teams had a couple of huge opportunities to win it, but somehow the puck wouldn’t in. The ice hockey Gods were at work, no doubt about it. Question was which team’s the most worthy…. The public announcer in the area told of a World Record in game time towards the end of the frame, if so, well…. the story tells itself. Shots on goal: 11-7 in favour of Sparta.
The 7th overtime period had no goals in it, but it gave us a couple of powerplays for the home team, and also a penalty shot. D-man Lars Løkken Østli found himself all alone from the side, and was hooked. Sadly the Storhamar veteran had no juice in his legs, so his penalty shot move became an easy save for Samuel Ward. Storhamar had the biggest opportunities in the frame, but the Warriors could also have broken the deadlock. Shots on goal were 14-9 to the hosts.
Finally, UN-BE-LIEVABLE! In the 8th overtime period, at 217:14, or 17:14 into the 11th act, Joakim Jensen won it for Storhamar with a slap shot from the right circle straight into the far low corner! The «Yellows» thereby took a 3-2 lead in the match series. Shots on goal in the 8th OT period were 7-7 and in total 96-93.
Holy Jumpin! …and sweet mothers of (ice hockey) Gods! This was something we will never forget. Thanks to both teams for a mind blowing experience.
March 10th 2017, playoff quarter finals, game 4 of 7, Sparta Warriors lead series 2-1;
Sparta Warriors vs Storhamar Hockey 2-4 (1-1, 0-1, 1-2)
Both teams came out sharp in the first period, and Storhamar had most of the run of play. The «Yellows» fired 16 shots during the frame, and one of them gave a result on the scoreboard as well. Mikael Zettergren tied the game to 1-1 at the 16:50 mark from the high slot nicely set up by line mates Joakim Jensen and Christian Larrivée. Samuel Ward between the Sparta pipes thought he had it in his glove, but the puck bounced up in the air and found its way across the line. Sparta opened up the scoring in the game when Niklas Roest scored shorthanded with a nice backhander into the low far corner. The goal came in the 12th minute and came just a few seconds after Daniel Hermansson had missed a huge opportunity at the other end, during the ongoing powerplay for Storhamar. Both goalies stood their grounds during the opponents pressure periods, but it was Ward that had most to do of the two netminders. Still a tie felt as a fair result after the first twenty. Shots on goal were 16-9 in favour of the «Yellows».
The second act was quite like the first, but containing fewer scoring chances both ways. Storhamar had three big ones though, by Daniel Hermansson missing on the far post, by Joey Tenute denting the goal post with a snap shot and by Joakim Jensen misfiring from the low slot. Still the «Yellows» managed to take a one goal lead into the second break as Alexander Reichenberg one-timed in a beautiful cross ice dish from Christian Bull during a powerplay towards the end of the period. At the other end Oskar Östlund also had to stand tall, Sparta came close to capitalising on a couple of rushes. Also worth noticing was that neither captain Christian Larrivée nor big sized D-man Joonas Rönnberg came out for the second period, both suffering from injuries. Rönnberg was tackled to the head in the first period and left the ice with help from the medics, while Larrivée didn’t show after having finished the first inning. Shots on goal in the 2nd period: 9-7 in favour of Storhamar.
Storhamar scored early in the third to take a demanding two goal lead in this tight affair. Alexander Reichenberg got his second of the night when he beat Ward from the slot 36 seconds into it. The «Yellows» controlled the game during the frame and the hosts could never put on any real pressure towards Östlund. Six minutes before the final buzzer Joakim Jensen was fed by Mikael Zettergren in a 2 on 1 rush during another powerplay, and Jensen did no mistake, to make it 4-1. Sparta managed to score once towards the end, but it never became real exciting after that. So Storhamar took another road win, and by that also took back the home ice advantage by tying the game series to 2-2. Shots on goal in the third period: 9-4 in favour of Sparta.
March 8th 2017, playoff quarter finals, game 3 of 7, match series tied 1-1;
Storhamar Hockey vs Sparta Warriors 0-3 (0-0, 0-0, 0-3)
The first period was exciting between these two rivals and both goalies had their fair share of workload. The hosts came closest to capitalising as Hampus Gustafsson missed on a point blank breakaway during the dying seconds of the frame, and youngster Simen Løvhaug Hansen missed an open net from the backdoor in a 2 on 1 rush. Oskar Östlund between the Storhamar pipes made some awesome saves to keep his team on level terms, and at the other side Samuel Ward was just as good. Goalless after twenty minutes, but it could have been a few. Shots on goal; 9-8.
The second act was a scrappy affair with both teams securing their d-zones as first, second and third priorities. So neither team could rack up any good scoring chances at all, the shots were mostly fired into traffic from far and wide. Sparta came closest to scoring during a powerplay, but Östlund in net stood his ground. Status quo after two periods. Shots on goal: 6-6.
The third frame was to be a misery for Storhamar. The «Yellows» couldn’t produce any offence, Sparta were in total control and scored three in the process. The goals were scored by Henrik Knold with a nice backhander up into the near top corner, Niklas Roest went five-hole when he found himself all alone in the slot, and finally Eirik Børresen’s tip-in fooled Östlund over his pad on the blocker side. Storhamar hit the goal post during the last minute, but it didn’t matter since a goal at that stage would only have been of academic value. So the visitors took another road win and by that took a demanding 2-1 match series lead with a home game coming up. Shots on goal in the third period: 8-9.
March 6th 2017, playoff quarter finals, game 2 of 7, Sparta Warriors lead series 1-0;
Sparta Warriors vs Storhamar Hockey 2-5 (0-3, 0-0, 2-2)
The first period in Sarpsborg was a bit strange. It was an evenly played period, but with the «Yellows» scoring 3 unanswered goals to take a demanding lead into the first break. The goals came during a short one and a half minute spell half way into the frame. Storhamar got to play a short while in a two man advantage and capitalised when Mikael Zettergren scored from the back door, nicely assisted by Erik de la Rose. But Zettergren wasn’t done. He doubled the lead just a few seconds later from the same spot, in 5 against 4, when D-man Joonas Rönnberg made a backhand no-look pass for the ages to set up his teammate. Sparta were shocked by the visitor’s sudden two goal lead, and the «Yellows» took advantage half a minute later when a tic-tac-toe play was executed into the net by Alexander Reichenberg from the slot. Sparta pushed on towards the end of the frame, and Oskar Östlund in goal came up with a couple of monster saves to keep his goal clean. So the teams took the first break with Storhamar being 3 goals up. Shots on goal were 7-5 in favour of the «Yellows».
Sparta controlled most of the run of play in the middle frame. But Östlund between the Storhamar pipes played solid and didn’t let anything through. Storhamar let the Warriors take shots from the outside and worked hard on the rebounds to clear the zone. The bounces went the right way, and some great scoring chances were also created on counter attacks. But Sparta came close to capitalising on numerous occasions during the period, so the score didn’t tell all about the run of play. Shots on goal in the second act were 14-7 in favour of the hosts.
Storhamar almost gave it away in the third period, but luckily they held on to tie the match series. The visitors seemed to have control during the first part, but suddenly a mistake along the boards gave Sparta a 2 on 1 opportunity, a chance that wasn’t wasted. Christopher Henriksen found the near corner to make it more interesting for the home fans. But the hosts couldn’t capitalise on the following momentum, and the «Yellows» weren’t challenged too much. That’s when an unlucky giveaway in the Storhamar D sent the crowds to heaven as Håkon Stormli cut the lead to just one goal. It was a faulty puck-bounce on the boards that set up the Warrior, who hit the near top corner from the low slot. Six minutes were left to play, so the Warriors had good time to complete the comeback. But that’s when sniper Joakim Jensen killed it all with a snap shot from the low slot, straight up into the top corner. Game, set, match for Storhamar. Henrik Zettergren got his hat-trick with an emptynetter in the dying seconds to cement the win and to tie the series to 1-1 in games. Shots in the third period were 10-6 in favour of Storhamar.
March 4th 2017, playoff quarter finals, game 1 of 7;
Storhamar Hockey vs Sparta Warriors 3-4 OT (0-0, 3-2, 0-1, 0-1)
The first period between these two contestants was a scrappy affair. Hosts Storhamar came out in what seemed to be a somewhat nervous shape, and the mental state became even worse when captain Christian Larrivée had to leave the game due to lower body issues after his first shift. Luckily for Storhamar Sparta couldn’t capitalise on Storhamar’s lack of sharpness, and Oskar Östlund between the pipes was never really challenged. At the other end Sparta gave away the puck twice, and both times Storhamar created major opportunities. But sadly Eirik Skadsdammen followed up by Martin Huse both misused their chances, and Joey Tenute hit the crossbar. Sparta could be satisfied with the run of play during the first act, but they would like to create some more danger in front of Storhamar’s net. Shots on goal were 8-6 in favour of the visitors.
The second frame was almost everything that the first wasn’t. It had five goals in it, and also some nice offensive play by both teams. Sparta came out flying, and it didn’t take them more than a bit over a minute to open up the scoring. A steal in the neutral zone sent Daniel Öhrn in towards the net, and the Swede beat Östlund on the far side. Storhamar worked their way into it, and Alexander Reichenberg could tie the game after a beautiful no-look pass by Hampus Gustafsson. «Reich» couldn’t miss the open net. It was an evenly fought battle after Reichenberg’s goal, but Sparta went back ahead 13 minutes into it. Markus Gerbrandt hammered in a blasting wrister from the high slot, Östlund didn’t see much of that one. But the «Yellows» stroke back just a few seconds later when Daniel Hermansson one-timed in a shot from the slot after a nice cross ice dish from Joakim Jensen’s stick. Tied again. Three minutes before the break 4th line centerman Jørgen Langdalen sent the hosts ahead with a nice wrister from the circle. The Hamar native went top shelf to beat Samuel Ward. So Storhamar could take the break being one goal up. Shots on goal were 15-9 in favour of the «Yellows».
The third period was another tight affair, but with the hosts doing the all too dangerous mistake of believing they could ride on their one goal lead. Or at least it became such an act, even though it wasn’t meant to be. The «Yellows» didn’t at all seem interested in attacking, they just played their solid trap system and kept the Warriors on the outside. Every time Storhamar could set up an attack, the so called safety solution was chosen in stead, and a line change… So there weren’t really any big scoring chances either way. That is… until Sparta got a powerplay 13 minutes in. Erik de la Rose was penalised for a puck-out, and the Warriors only used 7 seconds to make the home team pay. A shot from the side by Niklas Roest found the way past Östlund, and it was all square. Sparta came closest to winning it before the 60 minute mark, but luckily Östlund managed to keep his team in it. The run of play, and the momentum, was Sparta’s. So Storhamar had a mountain to climb in overtime, both on the ice and mentally. Shots in the third period were 8-6 in favour of Sparta.
Sparta only used one minute in overtime to win it when Daniel Öhrn found himself all alone in the slot and snapped home the game winner. So Sparta took a lead in the seriers and stole the home ice advantage in the process.