International Ice Hockey Federation

Norstebo new to big stage

Norstebo new to big stage

Brynas defenceman jumps to national team

Published 04.05.2015 17:57 GMT+2 | Author John Sanful
Norstebo new to big stage
OSTRAVA, CZECH REPUBLIC - MAY 2: Norway's Mattias Norstebo #10 charges up ice during preliminary round action at the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/HHOF-IIHF Images)
The continued success of national team programs comes through the development of young players. Cycle out older players and bring on younger ones.

The method is time tested and those teams that don’t, usually aren’t lingering long among the top nations at the World Championship.

Norway is no different and while this team has been close knit for a number of years, at this tournament they’re introducing defenceman Mattias Norstebo, a player who they hope could be with the national team for a long time.

In a 6-2 loss to Russia, Norstebo saw limited action. Norstebo took twelve shifts for a total of six minutes of ice time. He also finished +1 when he was on ice for Patrick Thoresen’s second goal of the game in the second period.

“It was a tough start for the team but for me it was a great opportunity to play my first games with the big team,” Norstebo said in assessing his performance. “To play against these players and on this team was quite an experience.”

The game against Russia offered Norstebo the chance to experience the sport at perhaps the fastest, most skilled level of his young life. Since 2012, Norstebo has played parts of seasons for Brynas Gavle in the Swedish Hockey League but even the World Championships are different when it comes to elite international hockey.

“This is a different level, for sure.” Norstebo said in comparing his first World Championship game against previous senior-level domestic competition in Sweden. “It is world class with the best players in the world and it is something different and great to be a part of.”

Norstebo has been knocking on the door of national team participation for over a year. When Norway was preparing for the 2014 tournament in Minsk, Norstebo took part in exhibition games. Since that time his ambition has been fuelled to one day be a part of the Norwegian team making the trip to the premier annual international hockey competition.

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“It was something I’d dreamt about playing on the Norwegian national team since I started to play hockey,” Norstebo said. “I was really happy I’d been chosen to make the team, for sure.”

The next near and dear milestone before Ostrava was taking part in the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship in Malmo, Sweden. Norway’s team did not fare well and was relegated but the experience of being among the top young players in the world was a fair testing ground.

Now at the senior level, this is different. Players are bigger, possess more experience and not easily intimidated.

Every team and player comes in with team goals. It could be winning gold, or vying for a playoff spot or simply putting together a competitive effort against the best of the best. Norstebo’s goals are both team oriented and with his development in mind.

“I want to get as much experience as I can and play more minutes,” he said despite only seeing six minutes of ice against Russia. “I’d like to take all the ice time I can get to develop more as a player so that I can better help my teammates.”

Since joining the national team here in Ostrava, teammates have welcomed Norstebo and if there were any concerns about fitting in, he’s done all right.

“This is a great group of guys. With so many of the same guys from year to year it is a close group with a positive atmosphere and culture. They really take care of me.”

By game two against the Unites States, Norstebo's ice time more than doubled. He saw 13:40 of ice time, an indication that his role will grow for Norway in the days and years to come.


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