International Ice Hockey Federation

Danish hockey keeps growing

Danish hockey keeps growing

Ready for second ever quarter-final

Published 18.05.2016 19:13 GMT+3 | Author John Sanful
Danish hockey keeps growing
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - MAY 7: Denmark's Nicklas Jensen #17, Daniel Nielsen #5, Morten Madsen #29 and Jesper B. Jensen #41 celebrate after a third period goal against Norway during preliminary round action at the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey Championship. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Denmark's run in the top division of the World Championship has been nothing short of remarkable.

Since 2003, Denmark has been competing in the top division of the World Championships. For only the second time in their history have the Danes reached the quarter-final round. In 2010, Denmark made the quarterfinals ewhere they lost to eventual bronze medalist Sweden. 

This time around they face a tough battle going up against Finland, a team fresh off a win over Team Canada and likely the strongest team in this tournament. Finland is undefeated in seven games.

At the 2010 World Championship, Denmark defeated Finland 4-1. A different time and a different Finnish team but a big win, nonetheless, in Danish hockey history. 

Still, when you compare Denmark from 2003 to 2016, there are significant differences. The first wave of Danish athletes had modest success in throughout European leagues and the domestic league in the country. Who could forget Peter Hirsch in goal, bravely stopping the Americans and then keeping Denmark close enough to manage a 2-2 tie against a Canadian team that eventually won gold at the 2003 tournament.

In at least one instance a player was brought out of retirement for that first run. Soren True was working as a Nike salesman but participated on that 2003 team.

Over the years, the development of Danish athletes has changed remarkably. Denmark has shown the ability to compete at the elite level of the World Championship. This is demonstrated by their ability to avoid being demoted since arriving in 2003.

Also, Denmark has nurtured players who have gone on to play in the NHL. This past season six Danes were on NHL rosters, including Frans Nielsen with the New York Islanders, Jannik Hansen with Vancouver, Lars Eller with Montreal, Frederik Anderson with Anaheim.

Another who saw action this year is Nikolaj Ehlers. Ehlers is the highest drafted Danish player. He was selected by the Winnipeg Jets in the 2014 NHL draft with the ninth pick. Ehlers' father Heinz played professionally for twenty years and coached in Switzerland. The elder Ehlers was also drafted by the New York Rangers in the ninth round in 1984. 

Denmark’s arrival to the top division of the World Championships is no fluke. Tomorrow they will face a particularly challenging test against Finland. But whatever happens there is no mistaking that Danish hockey has arrived and there can be no going back.

The upside for this small hockey nation and where it can go as its ranks grow is huge.


Back to Overview