For a team that has not had the biggest amount of success in the history of the WJC tournament, the Danish certainly have had a colourful run in recent years.
Ever since earning their spot in the top division after earning the promotion after the Division 1 World Cup in 2014, they have been a bag full of surprises. From the wins in back-to-back tournaments over Switzerland, to upsetting the Czech Republic and defending champion Finland to finish second in Group A in 2017. The Danes are always a fun team to watch, because you never know who they are going to catch off guard.
How to Stay At the Top
The Danes took a huge drop in last year’s tournament. They went 0-4 in the round-robin, and finished last in Group A. They survived relegation after a pair of close wins over Belarus. This year, the pressure is on the Danish to simply stay in the top division. The Danes will have eight returnees from last year’s team coming back to help Denmark stay competing with the best players in the game. Before you look at the numbers, you have to see that Kazakhstan is in tough as Group B may be the tougher of the two groups, and it will be difficult for the Kazakhs to find success. Second, the Danes will play the Swiss for the fourth time in five years. The Danish have only only lost once, and that was an overtime loss in the 2017 tournament. Unfortunately, for the Danes, teams are not taking them as lightly as they used to when they first burst onto the scene. So, the Danes should be able to compete with some of Group A, but they will have to play their best if they want to keep their spot in the top division.
Who to Watch For
The lone returning goaltender from last year’s roster, Søgaard will most likely get the call for the Danish in the tournament. Despite not playing at all last year, he’s certainly made a case why he should play. Søgaard really uses his 6’7″ to his advantage. The scary part is he can move as well. He moves with such ease in the crease, and his long legs he will use to kick out to make a desperation save if need be. Søgaard has adjusted well in his first year in the WHL. He is 10-4-1-2 with Medicine Hat, his 2.39 GAA is good for fifth-best in the league, while is .931 SV% has him tied for fourth in the WHL.
One of the best defenceman currently in the Swedish Junior league, Anderson is almost a shoe-in for the top pair for the Danes in this tournament. Certainly not the biggest d-man, standing at 5’11”, Anderson uses his mobility to hold his own at both ends of the rink. So far with Linkoping’s junior team, Anderson has 12 points in 26 games, which for a defenceman in Europe, is fairly impressive. His play has been so impressive that he was even called up to the big club in the SHL for a few games earlier this season. Expect to see Anderson out on the ice both when the Danes need a goal and when the opposition’s stars are on the ice.
Setkov was taken by the Detroit Red Wings in the fourth round in 2017, following a notable season with Malmo’s junior team, as he amassed 12 points for the Redhawks’ blue line. He took a little bit of a dip last year, as he bounced back and forth between Malmo and IK Pantern of HockeyAllsvenskan. This season he seemed to have his scoring touch when, in the first seven games with Malmo’s junior team, he scored five points in his first seven games. That caught the eye of the big club, and Setkov was brought up to the SHL. He has yet to put up any points for the big Redhawks, but his experience playing against professionals will be very important in this tournament.
Victor is an unknown talent that will need to step up if the Danes want any success in the offencive end. In his first season in the Metal Ligaen (the top league in Denmark) he totaled 11 points in 50 games for Hvidovre. He started at around the same scoring pace this as he was last season, scoring four points in the first couple months in the season. He was called over to Malmo to play in the SuperElit league after 22 games with Hvidovre. Cubars has not been up with the junior Redhawks for long, but two goals in your first three games is not a bad start.
Lukas Bach Nielsen
Nielsen is a decently sized winger that can really play a big role for the Danish. Last year, while on Zug’s U-20 team in the Swiss Jr. A League, he only put up seven points in 42 games. This year, he really came into his own as a playmaker for Zug earning nine assists in his first 16 games. This earned him a call up to play with EVZ Academy in the Swiss National B League. Despite only one point in 12 games, Nielsen is someone who will need some time to develop in the pro game. You would expect Nielsen will get some playing time on the Danish power play in this tournament.
In his first season in North America, Schultz is doing fairly well so far with the Victoria Royals. A solid two-way forward, Schultz is just as reliable in his own end as he is to help cash in on the offencive side of the puck in the other. Currently sitting ninth in team scoring with 13 points, Schultz’s +6 is tied for second-best on his team. He may not be the top-line scorer like some other prospects, he may play a big role in shutting down the other team’s top lines.
Albert Adamsen (Herning Blue Fox, Metal Ligaen (Denmark))
William Rorth (Rodovre Mighty Bulls, Metal Ligaen (Denmark))
Mads Sogaard (Medicine Hat Tigers, WHL)
Daniel Anderson (Linkoping HC J20, SuperElit (Sweden))
Victor Andersen (Herning Blue Fox, Metal Ligaen (Denmark))
Lasse L. Carlesn (Hvidovre Fighters, Metal Ligaen (Denmark))
Lasse Holm Mortensen (Rodovre Mighty Bulls, Metal Ligaen (Denmark))
Magnus Koch (Herlev Eagles, Metal Ligaen (Denmark))
Oscar Schulze (Rungsted Seir Capital, Metal Ligaen (Denmark))
Malte Setkov (Malmo Redhawks, SHL)
Jeppe Urup Mogensen (Sioux Falls Stampede, USHL)
Lucas Andersen (Karlskrona HK J20, SuperElit (Sweden))
Lukas Bach Nielsen (EVZ Academy, National League B (Switzerland))
Jonathan Brinkman (Aalborg Pirates, Metal Ligaen (Denmark))
Victor Cubars (Malmo Redhawks J20, SuperElit (Sweden))
Soren Dietz-Larsen (Malmo Redhawks J20, SuperElit (Sweden))
Christoffer Gath (Herlev Eagles, Metal Ligaen (Denmark))
Gustav Green (Rungsted Seier Capital, Metal Ligaen (Denmark))
Andreas Grundtvig (Esbjerg Energy, Metal Ligaen (Denmark))
Oliver Kjaer (Esbjerg Energy, Metal Ligaen (Denmark))
David Madsen (Malmo Redhawks J20, SuperElit (Sweden))
Emil Marcussen (Aalborg Pirates, Metal Ligaen (Denmark))
Oliver Reuter (Herlev Eagles, Metal Ligaen (Denmark))
Jonas Rondbjerg (Vaxjo Lakers HC, SHL)
Phillip Schultz (Victoria Royals, WHL)
Jakob Wittendorf (Odense Bulldogs, Metal Ligaen (Denmark))
Dec. 26 vs. Canada (8:00 pm ET/5:00 pm PT)
Dec. 27 vs. Russia (4:00 pm ET/1:00 pm PT)
Dec. 29 vs. Switzerland (4:00 pm ET/1:00 pm PT)
Dec. 31 vs. Czech Republic (4:00 pm ET/1:00 pm PT)
All stats found on eliteprospects.com
All records found on iihf.com
Featured image photo credit – Pixabay.com