STOCKHOLM Ė In a small hockey country like Denmark having two brothers both on the national team is rare but both in North America pursuing NHL dreams is rarer still. IIHF.com's John Sanful spoke with Oliver and Markus Lauridsen.
Great win for Denmark (3-2 over Slovenia in OT). Must be nice to finally get one.
Markus Lauridsen: Itís a great feeling. It was a must win for us to stay alive so we worked really hard to get back in the game. We thought we played a good game against Norway and wanted to carry that on over to the game against Slovenia and keep working hard. We believed in ourselves the whole game. Thatís character.
What does it mean to you being a part of the Danish national team?
Markus Lauridsen: Itís always been a dream to be on this team and representing the country. Itís an honour and been really fun to be a part of it.
What was it like watching Denmark defeat the U.S. at the 2003 IIHF World Championship?
Markus Lauridsen: I remember that game well. We were home sitting and watching the game and so excited. We were jumping and screaming because that was a big accomplishment for Danish hockey and a turning point for the program.
Is it hard to adjust to being on the team and navigating the big sheet?
Markus Lauridsen: I played in one exhibition game a week before we got here and got a couple of practices in. I didnít have a lot of time to readjust to the big ice surfaces but it started to get familiar again. You can feel it in your legs. There is a lot more ice to cover and it took a couple of practices and the first game to get used to it from back in the day. You still have some memory of playing on a big ice surface.
Danish hockey continues to develop. Can you comment on the programís progress?
Markus Lauridsen: I think Danish hockey is getting bigger. We donít have a lot of players but the Danish hockey program is developing more players who make it to North American and European leagues.
How are you progressing in North America?
Markus Lauridsen: I got over to North America and the dream is to make it to the NHL. Now I have the contract with the Colorado Avalanche and have to keep working hard to make it to the big league. But Iím happy that we are working hard to pursue our goals.
Oliver Lauridsen, what are your thoughts on the game against Slovenia?
Oliver Lauridsen: It was a big win. Two huge points at least. We didnít play the best game of the tournament but came out on top and are happy with that. It was a hard fought game. Both teams were playing a bit shaky and were desperate. I think we didnít deliver our best hockey. Itís a good sign when you arenít playing your best and can still come out with the win. No one wants to go to a shootout these days. Goalies are so good and itís anybodyís game when it goes to a shootout. So that was a huge goal by Morten Green at the end.
Did Denmarkís 2003 World Championship campaign influence you?
Oliver Lauridsen: Yes it did. That 2003 tournament was more than we could ever ask for in our first World Championship in the top division. I remember watching it in disbelief. That was one of the most important years in Danish hockey. We made a statement that we belong with the best in the world in hockey. Weíve been here for ten years and didnít look back and donít intend to either.
What was it like seeing significant time with the Philadelphia Flyers after you were called up this spring?
Oliver Lauridsen: Getting the call up was a dream come true. Itís what you dream about as a kid when you start playing to make it to the NHL. It is something you work for every day and every hour so when it comes it is the opportunity you want to grasp and never look bad. It was a huge experience. I was happy with the time I got; it wasnít just one or two games I was able to finish the season. I was lucky with all the injuries. I was really happy I got my shot.
Not only were you called up but also played quality minutes over 15 games.
Oliver Lauridsen: It was a good opportunity for me. When I first came up we were still in the playoff hunt after a while we were eliminated and I started getting some huge minutes when guys went down with injuries and I had a chance to get a bigger role on the ice and show what I can really do out there.
When you came to North America you pursued college hockey first. What was that like?
Oliver Lauridsen: Attending college and playing hockey were the most important decisions I made in my career. Coming out of junior hockey in Sweden and I knew, and had people tell me 'You are a late bloomer and you have it in you'. I was not one of those guys who they were waving Elisterien contracts in front of the face. I knew there were people who saw some things in me and directed me to the college route. I would have four years to develop into the player I came to be. It was the right move for me.
Can you talk about your brother pursuing his path in North America?
Oliver Lauridsen: My younger bother is developing into a good player. He went an entirely different route than I did. He never went to college and made it. For us it has been about setting goals for ourselves and believing in them and working real hard. When you do that, things tend to happen for you.