OSLO (Norway) - Canada's national hockey team was sluggish today after a three-week layoff from competitive action and a long trip to the Scandinavian country in losing, 4-3, for the first time this season to Norway on the opening day of competition at the Rimi Cup in Oslo, Norway.
Canada's national team is participating in the Rimi Cup, a round-robin competition against France, Germany and Norway, from February 4-7.
"After a three-week lay-off, we struggled through the first two periods," said Canadian national team coach Tom Renney, "but we finally started to put it together in the third period and by that time it was a little too late." Renney's squad last suited up for a game on January 6 in a 4-3 win over the Russians in Drayton Valley, Alberta.
"We will have to be much better in our next two games because the competition will certainly get stronger," noted Renney of his opponents. Canada faces France tomorrow and meets Germany on February 6 to wrap-up their part in the round-robin.
Norway jumped to a 1-0 lead at 1:56 of the first period on a power-play goal with Canadian forward Mike Bodnerchuk of Bramalea, Ontario, off for hooking. Per Knold beat Canada's goaltender, Andrew Verner of Weston, Ontario, for the opening-game goal. Verner stopped 23 of 27 shots during the game.
Canada tied the game, 1-1, at 11:14 on a low shot by Vancouver's Mark Kaufmann - his tenth of the season. Canadian Dallas Gaume, playing for Norway's Trondheim hockey club, and Jamie Steer of Calgary, had the assists on the marker that beat Robert Schistad. Schistad made 11 saves on 14 shots.
Norway reclaimed their one-goal lead at 13:20 and never looked back. Geir Hoff beat Verner for the 2-1 lead on their second power-play goal of the game. Forward Curtis Bowen of Kenora, Ontario, was serving a hooking penalty.
Canada and Norway exchanged second period goals for a 3-2 score after 40 minutes. Ole Dahlstrom scored an unassisted goal at 12:26 of the middle frame, while Canadian defenceman Bryan Muir of Toronto answered back for Canada at 15:51 with his fourth goal of 1995-96 the season. Green earned his second assist of the game and Ryan Johnson of Thunder Bay, Ontario, recorded the other helper on Muir's goal.
The third period was a repeat of the second with Norway going up by two goals and Canada fighting for the comeback. Tom Erik Olson scored the winning goal for Norway at 3:59. Derek Cormier of Shediac, N.B., and Nick Stajduhar of Kitchener, Ontario, combined to score Canada's third goal. Cormier recorded his eight goal and Stajduhar his 17th assist for the 4-3 final.
In six games against Norway this season, the Canadians won the first five games played in Canada last October, Tom Renney's squad has outscored the Norwegians 21-14. The teams will not meet again this season.
Canada's 1995-96 record after 34 games stands at 22 wins, eight losses and four ties.
Rimi Cup - Oslo, Norway
February 4 - Norway 4 Canada 3
February 5 - Canada vs France; Norway vs Germany
February 6 - Canada vs Germany; Norway vs France
February 7 - France vs Germany