International Ice Hockey Federation

Russell fitting in fine

Russell fitting in fine

Denmark's next generation grows

Published 11.05.2017 12:24 GMT+2 | Author John Sanful
Russell fitting in fine
One year before having the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship on home ice, Patrick Russell had his Worlds debut with Denmark in Cologne. Photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images
Danish forward Patrick Russell made his senior men’s national team debut last week and in three games shown that he can play at this level.

In the 4-3 shootout win over Slovakia, Patrick Russell scored his first ever World Championship goal in the second period. Russell took a pass from teammate Mathias Bau and expertly put the puck in the net as if he’d done it many times before in tournaments like this. And he has.

The win was Denmark’s first, breaking their two-game losing streak. What has been unshakeable, though, is their belief in being able to compete at the highest level. They’ve done it for over a decade and will remain viable so long as they keep producing young players like Nikolaj Ehlers, Oliver Bjorkstrand and, of course, Russell.

“It’s been a great experience so far,” Russell said of his debut. “The first two games were not the way we wanted to start, but we learn as a team and I believe in this team. We have turned a corner.” 

The 24-year-old Russell has represented Denmark at the U18 and U20 tournaments at Division I level. In 2011 with the U18 team, Russell was second in tournament scoring behind current Danish teammate Nikolai Meyer. Mathias Bau was also a member of that team.

Now with the men’s team, the quality and level of play is different and Russell has had to elevate his game.

“There are bigger, stronger guys here and better players,” Russell said. “It is a little more different there is more skating but it has been good so far.” 

Russell was another of Denmark’s next generation who was influenced by the surprising success of the national team at the 2003 World Championship. In many ways, that tournament and Denmark’s win over the Americans has had similar impact as the 1980 Winter Olympics had among children in the United States.

A 10-year-old Russell was inspired by Denmark and knew he wanted to play hockey and represent his country after watching the 5-2 win over Team USA at Tampere Ice Hall in Tampere, Finland.

“I remember that game so well. I was at home on the couch watching that game. It was an unbelievable game and one that I’ll forever remember. It’s what inspired me to want to keep playing hockey. It was great to see that national team succeed. It was a lot of fun watching that game.”

As a youngster, Russell played hockey in Sweden for Linkoping until 2013 when he moved to North America to play American junior hockey. One season with the Waterloo Black Hawks in the USHL led to a college scholarship to St. Cloud State University. Russell capped his two-year college career with a strong final season, scoring 20 goals and 41 points. 

He spent last season with the Bakersfield Condors of the American Hockey League before signing as a free agent with the Edmonton Oilers. 

Russell’s dream of representing the national team has progressed into a possible NHL career ahead.

“It is an honour being a part of the Edmonton organization,” he said. “A great organization all the way through. It’s been a good year and I’ve learned a lot and I need to work on a lot of stuff as well. I plan on doing just that over the summer and hopefully I can go back there and have an even better year.”


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