Sweden’s victory over Switzerland on Sunday night at the Royal Arena in Copenhagen saw the 2018 IIHF World Championships draw to a close. The tournament, which was held over 16 days in the capital as well as in Herning, has been an undeniable success – both for tourism and Danish ice hockey.
Although the hosts were ousted in the group stages, the Danes can take a lot of pride from their performances. Over the course of their seven group games, Denmark pulled off impressive victories over the likes of Finland and Germany, before going out in heartbreaking fashion, losing 0-1 to Latvia.
An upward trend?
Denmark’s positive results during the tournament are a continuation of the upward trajectory Danish hockey has been going through since joining the top international division in 2003.
In 2007, history was made as Frans Nielsen became the first Danish-born player to play in the NHL. Since then, the number has only grown, with seven players currently playing in the league.
The team at the World Championships featured five of these players including Nielsen. The others were Mikkel Bødker and Jannik Hansen of the San Jose Sharks, Oliver Bjorkstrand of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Frederik Andersen from the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Absent stars shining in America
Two players notably missing from the team that featured in the World Championships were Lars Eller and Nikolaj Ehlers. Both players were still in contention for the Stanley Cup Playoffs with their teams the Washington Capitals and Winnipeg Jets and were thus unable to join Team Denmark.
Currently, only Eller and the Capitals are still in contention, needing just one more win to make the Stanley Cup Finals.
While the addition of both Eller and Ehlers would have undoubtedly bolstered the team’s chances, the Danes proved they could win games without all of their stars.
Although many fans will be left disappointed that Denmark were unable to advance past the group stages, the future of Danish hockey looks bright. As more and more Danes make it to the NHL, interest in the sport will probably only get stronger.
The enthusiasm with which the Danish crowd cheered on their players, as well as the performances of the team itself, show that progress is certainly being made.