Denmark shocks Team USA with 2-1 win in overtime at the 2010 IIHF World Championships in Germany

By Jon Swenson - Last updated: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 - Save & Share - Leave a Comment


2010 IIHF World Championships in Germany, Denmark vs USA
TEAM USA AND TEAM DENMARK LINE UP FOR A 3RD PERIOD FACEOFF MONDAY - UNIVERSAL SPORTS

It has been a long time since Denmark’s 47-0 loss to Canada in the 1947 World Championships. The southernmost Nordic country has grown in fits and starts until it may have quietly become the next European hockey country to keep an eye on. Situated between established leagues in Germany (Deutsche Eishockey Liga), Finland (SM-liiga) and Sweden (Elitserien), Denmark has recently churned out a number of players poised to break out on the NHL stage. Mikkel Boedker (Phoenix), Jannik Hansen (Vancouver), Frans Nielsen (NYI), Peter Regin (Ottawa) and 2009 13th overall selection Lars Eller (STL) are potential impact players who will only increase the visibilty of the sport among their five and a half million countrymen.

The Danish national team’s performance at the 2010 IIHF World Championships is also turning a few heads. In a ‘Group of Death’ Group D along with the United States, Finland and Germany, Denmark has emerged with a pair of wins in its first two games, and confidence it can go deep in the tournament. Ottawa Senators center Peter Regin stepped off of the plane after scoring 3 goals and an assist against Pittsburgh in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and he promptly lead Denmark to a 4-1 thrashing of Finland in the World Championships’ first major upset.

According to friend of the blog Risto Pakarinen, Frans Nielsen and Peter Regin scored on 6-foot-5 Nashville Predators goaltender Pekke Rinne nearly 5 minutes into the game for all the offense Denmark would need. Julian Jakobsen and Frans Nielsen would score again, and the Danes would fight off a number of late penalties to close out the win. “It was 20 guys working their ass off for 60 minutes, and excellent goaltending. If you work harder than the other team you always have a chance and that is what we did tonight,” Peter Jensen said. Herning Blue Fox goaltender Frederik Andersen (from the Danish AL-Bank Ligaen), stopped 36 of 37 shots against for the win.

Next up for Denmark was an entertaining 2-1 overtime win against Team USA Monday night. It was a hard luck loss for the Americans, three days after a similar 2-1 overtime loss that was witnessed by world record outdoor crowd of 77.803 fans at Veltins Arena.

Team Denmark switched it up in goal, using Soenderjyske goalie Patrick Galbraith instead of Andersen who was hot against Finland. The Danish side was using their speed well to start the game, taking advantage of the larger ice surface. The top line of Foligno-Okposo-Dubinsky was the most threatening for Team USA, but for the most part the American attack was outside on the perimeter. The Danes tee’d up several point shots, and traffic in front made life difficult early for Florida Panthers backup Scott Clemmensen. Lars Eller narrowly missed two point blank rebound attempts.

The Americans tried to establish momentum at the start of the second period. A large scrum in front of Galbraith resulted in 4 quick whacks at a loose puck by Calgary forward David Moss. Galbraith was solid positionally down low on the first two shots, and quick reactions on the next two kept the puck out of his net. Team USA started to implement a hard forecheck, with Foligno hammering Danish #13 up against the boards. “I thought we played our game in the second period,” head coach Scott Gordon told USAhockey.com. “Establishing a solid forecheck is a big part of playing our game. We turned the puck over way too much in the neutral zone overall. In the end, give Denmark credit. They earned the victory.”

Young Colorado forward T.J. Galiardi lifted a puck over the glass, drawing a delay of game penalty and opening the door for Denmark. Two quick passes broke Lars Eller up through the neutral zone with speed, and he hammered a slap shot off the left shoulder of Clemmensen that deflected just under the crossbar. The momentum and scoring chances were heavily tilted in USA’s favor, but the mistake was costly. Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle answered on the power play nearly 3 minutes later on a nice setup by Kyle Okposo. Okposo dangled the puck low on the left side, then saucered a pass through the crease to a driving Yandle. Yandle buried the shot high glove side to tie the game at 1-1.

The 8,985-strong crowd in Cologne was vocal, and heavily Danish partisan. There were several unidentifiable chants, a few traditional drinking song standards, and a handful of soccer chants thrown in for good measure. The television broadcasters on Universal Sports (channel 187 on Comcast) noted that the personal-sized pitchers wielded by Danish fans were “the largest beers I have ever seen at a hockey game.”

The intensity picked up in the third period and overtime, but critical turnovers high in the offensive zone and in the neutral zone gave Denmark several odd man rushes against. Foligno kept the pressure on Galbraith down low. Hit with incidental contact, Foligno made a Corey Perry-esque trip sideways on top of the Danish goaltender. For his part, Galbraith didn’t flinch and made a glove save on the 6-foot, 210-pound Buffalo native.

Denmark continued to crash the net on Clemmensen, and a brutal slash by Matt Greene on Mads Christensen gave the Danes another late power play. Lars Eller almost made them pay twice down low. The first attempt rang loudly off the crossbar, and the second attempt came after a slick give-and-go caught the American defense pinching deep. Eller’s shot trickled just wide of the net.

Danish defenseman Stefan Lassen became an unlikely hero with the game winning goal 2:04 into overtime. He drove into the zone and fired a quick shot using a defenseman as a screen. He beat three Americans to the rebound, and lifted a backhand farside into the open net. The Danish bench, along with their Swedish head coach Per Backman, exploded in celebration. An enterprising Danish fan already made a ‘History will be Made’ highlight video featuring Stefan Lassen.

Denmark clinched a position in the next round, and is tied with Germany 1-1 in the second period as this post is being typed. Team USA earned a point in each overtime loss, but they will need a strong performance tonight against Finland. The top three teams in each group advance to the qualification round. The games will be broadcast on Universal Sports and online at UniversalSports.com.

[Update] Denmark’s Gretzky, Peter Regin is a role model in Denmark – IIHF.com.

[Update2] One-man band – Ristopakarinen.com. I didn’t know Risto was a photographer as well, but according to an email he has been using a remote to trigger a camera inside the net, and also to trigger an overhead camera to take photos of the game (as well as write game recaps for IIHF.com). Incredible stuff. More from Risto here.

[Update3] This may be the best peformance by Denmark at the World Championships since 2003, when Team Danmark upset the U.S. 5-2 (photo) and tied Canada 2-2 (photo) in the preliminary round. According to a few fans online, Mikkel Bodker is out with an injury, and Jannik Hansen has stated he will not join the team after Vancouver lost its WCSF series against Chicago.

[Update4] Expert: Victory equal to quarter finals – SPN.dk.

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