International Ice Hockey Federation

Danish dreams

Danish dreams

QF spot would be 'huge' for DEN

Published 16.05.2016 12:06 GMT+3 | Author Andy Potts
Danish dreams
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - MAY 15: Denmark players celebrate after a 2-1 shoot-out win over the Czech Republic during preliminary round action at the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/HHOF-IIHF Images)
The land of Hans Christian Andersen is famous for fairytales - and its hockey players are out to write a new one by taking Denmark to its second QF in history.

The 2010 World Championship has gone down in Danish hockey folklore - but the class of 2016 is looking to write a new fairytale.

Back then the Danes reached the last eight for the first, and so far only, time in their history. Big wins over Finland and Slovakia in the group stages set up a showdown with Sweden; the Tre Kronor prevailed 4-2 but not before that Denmark roster showed its quality to a global audience.

Morten Madsen, whose tying goal in yesterday's win over the Czechs has helped put this year's team on the verge of repeating that triumph, also played in 2010 - and is determined to seize the opportunity.

"Getting to the last eight would be huge," he said. "It's been a while. Over the last few years people keep talking about 'oh, remember how we got to the quarter final that time?' Now it's time to write a new story."

The change in the Danish camp has been swift. A crushing 10-1 defeat against Russia in game four of the competition had the Scandinavians looking nervously at the foot of the table, but back-to-back victories over Latvia and the Czechs has transformed the mood.

Forward Lars Eller reckons the team learned fast from its early mistakes. "The Russia game was a wake-up call in terms of staying out of the penalty box," he said. "That game would have been a lot different if we played as much 5-on-5 as we did against the Czechs. It was the same against Sweden, we lost both those games in the penalty box.

"After that it was a clean slate. We've had our bad game here and we're over it."

Qualification is a real possibility this year. Denmark is tied with Switzerland on eight points going into the final round of group games. The Swiss have the edge in head-to-head play, but the fixture list gives the Danes a potentially easier task against already-demoted Kazakhstan tonight. Switzerland faces the Czech Republic tomorrow knowing it will have to at least match whatever Jan Karlsson's team achieves this evening.

Team captain Morten Green, another veteran of the 2010 roster, is mindful of the dangers of underestimating the Kazakhs - but speaks highly of the quality of the 18th World Championship team he's played on.

"It's a really important game for us," he said. "We have to get together, clear our minds after the Czech game and hopefully we can go to the quarters.

"We have a really, really good team right through the roster and this year we have some top players can win games for us. We need those players to come over from the NHL and help us be a good team in the Worlds. Even this year we're still missing seven or eight guys.

"We've got a lot of good players but we just can't use them every time because they play in North America."

Eller is one of the Trans-Atlantic talents who is one this year's roster. The Montreal Canadiens' forward is playing on an all-NHL Line with Nikolaj Ehlers and Jannick Hansen, providing some of that game-changing quality Green refered to.

Now 27, he also featured in 2010 as a youngster and now hopes that he can be part of a team that inspires the next generation of Danish hockey.

"I've been saying this for a lot of years but I hope the buzz that a winning team can create will change Danish hockey," he said. "I'd like to see more rinks, and more kids playing hockey.

"We're doing some pretty amazing things at the moment with the players and the rinks we have. When you look at the stats, it's pretty unique for us to have so many guys in the NHL.

"Eventually I hope our performances here are going to lead to even more but right now I hope that a lot of people back home are proud of their national team."



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