International Ice Hockey Federation

Ehlers & Co. ready to roll

Ehlers & Co. ready to roll

Denmark can afford to take some chances

Published 04.05.2017 11:03 GMT+2 | Author John Sanful
Ehlers & Co. ready to roll
The Winnipeg Jets’ Nikolaj Ehlers will be the star on the Danish national team. Photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images
Coming into the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, Denmark has the opportunity to take a few chances in qualifying for the playoff round.

Denmark is a year away from hosting the World Championship at home. Before that happens, Denmark will have the opportunity to present a strong showing heading into next spring. This country with less than 5,000 registered hockey players remains an international success story.

Their debut in the top division of World Championship tournament competition in 2003 was remarkable as they defeated Team USA and tied Canada. Fourteen years later, Denmark has remained at the elite level and produced NHL-quality talent along the way. Denmark remains a team to watch and can be a spoiler when they get timely scoring and strong goaltending. After a 10-1 loss to Russia last year, they won three games and made the playoffs en route to an 8th-place finish, their best placing yet. Over the years, Denmark has earned the respect of competing nations and cannot be taken for granted.


Denmark’s goaltending has remained steady in the recent past. They are fortunate to have two goaltenders who have both, at different times, saw the bulk of action for the national team.

Sebastian Dahm has been the starting goaltender in consecutive tournaments. After being the third goaltending option in 2013 and 2014, Dahm has played well when given the starting nod. In 13 overall games, Dahm has won five and posted a 2.43 goals against average. Dahm is poised to start for Denmark here in Germany. Simon Nielsen has also spent a fair amount of time with the national team. Nielsen, who is brother to NHLer Frans Nielsen, has seen action in 11 games with a 3.60 goals against average.


Oliver and Markus Lauridsen are national team mainstays. Markus contributed a goal and assist while Oliver, more of a stay-at-home defenceman, was scoreless in eight games. Jesper Jensen only participated in three games in 2016 World Championship but led Danish defencemen in scoring with two goals and three points. Markus Lauridsen and Jensen are teammates with Finnish squad Jokerit in the Kontinental Hockey League. Otherwise, Denmark received little production from their blueliners and this needs to change if they are to add a dimension to their offensive capabilities that will aid their fortunes.


Denmark will miss out on the services of Frans Nielsen, Patrick and Oliver Bjorkstrand. Despite this, Denmark still carries a talented group of forwards to Germany ready to compete. Denmark finished atop the standings in power play efficiency in 2016 which bodes well for their ability to play with the man advantage. In his second full season with the NHL, Nikolaj Ehlers scored 25 goals and 64 points for the Winnipeg Jets, tying him with Patrik Laine for third in team scoring. Ehlers scored four games in Russia last spring. Ehlers showed his promise last week registering four assists as Denmark defeated Switzerland for the first time in its history in any competition, 5-4.

Captain Morten Green has played every tournament for the Danes since they joined the top division in World Championship play in 2003. Malmo skaters Nichlas Hardt and Frederik Storm join the team. Both have been key performers in previous tournaments. Birkenrod native Patrick Russell spent the last four years in North American, moving from American junior hockey to college to minor pro. Mads Christensen is coming off a superb year where his German team Munich who the league championship. Christensen scored 16 goals and 37 points during the regular season and seven points in 14 playoffs games. Peter Regin returns for this first time since 2010 to national team play. In the KHL he led Jokerit Helsinki in scoring with 48 points.


Head coach Jan Karlsson has plenty of experience at the league and international level. Karlsson was behind the bench as an assistant coach for Sweden when they won gold at the 2006 Winter Olympics and World Championships. He’s also a three-time domestic league winner as coach in Sweden. Karlsson is looking to elevate Denmark back into the top of World Championship standings after an impressive finish in 2016.

Projected Results

Denmark need pull out all the stops here, and can afford to take some chances. Since relegation is not an option with the tournament on home ice next year, they can really push their compete level to gain a spot in the quarter-finals. A strong showing here will build expectations and interest for the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship where Denmark will be in the spotlight of the international hockey community.


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