International Ice Hockey Federation

Denmark wins in a shootout

Denmark wins in a shootout

History for the Danes in 4-3 win over Switzerland

Published 30.12.2014 20:29 GMT-5 | Author Andrew Podnieks
Denmark wins in a shootout
The Danish players celebrate a goal in their historic win against Switzerland. Photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images
A game fought tooth and nail by both teams came down to a penalty-shot shootout, and Denmark prevailed for a vital win and two points in the standings.

As significant, the Danes won at the top level of the U20 for the first time in their history after 15 straight defeats (six in 2008 and 2012, and three more to start this year).

And now, they must wait and hope for favourable results tomorrow to see if they will advance to the quarter-finals. Russia must beat the Czechs tomorrow (in regulation or overtime) and Sweden must beat Switzerland in regulation. If these happen, the Danes are off to their first U20 playoff. If not, they will be back in the Relegation Round.

"I'll be cheering for Sweden, for sure," Ehlers admitted.  

If the Danes, Czechs, and Swiss are tied with four points each, Switzerland will advance after a standing with the three teams is made (Swiss will have 4 points, Denmark 3, and Czechs 2).

The Danes won the shootout 2-1 thanks to goals from Nikolaj Ehlers and Oliver Bjorkstrand. Only Timo Meier could beat Danish goalie Georg Soderstrom, who was superb again in a game his team was outshot, 45-23.

"I was happy with how I played today," Sorensen said. "I played well yesterday, so I just did my routines again today. We had great guys in front of me, and they played well today also. We gave it everything we had. We're exhausted but happy."

"I'm really happy right now, and the guys are really fired up in the dressing room," said Nikolaj Ehlers, the best player on the ice by far. "It's amazing to stand here with a win. We told ourselves we were not going to lose a fourth game."

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"I think we played a good game," said Swiss forward Luca Hischier. "We had 45 shots. I think we were the better team but they scored twice with the power play."

The Swiss jumped into a 2-0 lead with quick goals midway through the opening period. Hischier tried to stuff the puck in the short side of the Danish goal, but the rebound came right to Kris Schmidli, who was left uncovered by defenceman Mikkel Aagaard at 10:48.

Just 66 seconds later Kevin Fiala converted a one-timer off a cross-slot pass from Denis Malgin, and the Danes were down but not out.

The top line of Ehlers, Mads Eller, and Oliver Bjorkstrand all contributed to a late goal to get their team back in the game. Ehlers danced through the slot before dishing the puck off to Bjorkstrand, who made a nice deke on goalie Gauthier Descloux. The goalie made the save, but he then knocked the puck into his own goal at 17:58 to give the Danes life after one period.

The second period also produced three goals, the edge going to Denmark and producing a 3-3 tie after 40 minutes. Anders Krogsgaard’s point shot on a power play went all the way at 12:19 to tie the game.

But just 24 seconds later, the Swiss went ahead again on a bad goal. Timo Meier’s close-in shot was stopped by Sorensen and the rebound went behind the goal. Meier chased it down and shot the puck in front from near the end boards, and it bounced off the goalie’s leg and in.

The Danes weren’t done, though. Defenceman Michael Fora muffed his clearing attempt from the slot, and Mikkel Aagaard was there to snap the puck in, tying the game 3-3.

Coach Olaf Eller gave his top three players extra ice time on other lines, and it seemed at least one of them was out there at all times. "I'll never say no to more ice time," Ehlers said.

That being said, two of the regulation goals were scored by secondary players, surely a key to the team's win. "It's important it's not just one line doing the scoring, for sure," Ehlers concurred. "It helps with team confidence." 

Meanwhile, as Denmark clawed its way back into the game, Sorensen was making a series of sensational left-pad saves to keep the score close. Those saves were small, though, compared to the one he made midway through the third period, robbing Luca Fazzini of a sure goal with that same left pad. Fazzini looked to the rafters after being denied, but it was all Sorensen and nothing divine about the stop.

"It's a great feeling to have the fans cheering for us," Sorensen said of the pro-Danish crowd of 13,263 at the Air Canada Centre. Indeed, ever since the team's tough battle with Russia to open the tournament, the Danes have been fan favourites. "It gives us extra motivation, for sure, to know the Toronto fans are behind us. We're the underdogs, but it's great."


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