Denmark isn’t known for scoring a ton of goals at the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, but the Scandinavian team exploded for nine against Great Britain on Tuesday for the team’s second win, and first in regulation, of the tournament.
Not surprisingly, that offence was helped heavily by the team’s two current NHL players, wingers and childhood friends Lars Eller of the Washington Capitals – who led the way with four points – and Mikkel Boedker of the Ottawa Senators.
“It’s not often you win 9-0 but I think we deserved it,” said Boedker, who had two assists in the game. “We had a really good power play and good patience throughout the game. Confidence is huge now. It was nice to get the win.”
Boedker is playing in his sixth World Championship but he didn’t remember Denmark ever scoring so many goals in a game, and that’s because they hadn’t at the top division. Previously, the Danes had scored six on two occasions, so this nine-goal outburst upped the team’s record by 50 per cent.
“I should have probably known that,” he chuckled when informed of the feat. “I saw most of their games growing up and been part of a few.”
While Boedker was growing up, Denmark usually played in Division I at the World Championship – they didn’t make the top group until 2003, when he was 13 and older brother Mads was 15. While Denmark wasn’t exactly a hockey-mad country, Mikkel loved hockey because that’s what his older brother did.
“You always look up to your older brother,” Boedker said fondly. “He played so I wanted to do what he did. If he didn’t play, I probably wouldn’t have played and we have a lot of shared memories from playing together.”
The two Boedkers played together a lot for the Danish national team at the U18, U20 and senior men’s levels over the years, including Mikkel’s first four World Championships.
Mads, a skilled but undersized defenceman, carved out a career that took him to Sweden, Russia, Germany and back home to Denmark before retiring three years ago.
Mikkel went to Gothenburg, Sweden to play for Frolunda at age 17 with Eller in order to further their careers.
“There aren’t many teams in Denmark where you can play, so we grew up playing together, and it’s one of those things you never lose touch of, and it’s definitely fun to have him here,” Boedker said of his good friend.
“I’ve played in the NHL for a while now, and what can I say? I’m living the dream,” the Ottawa winger said. “I know I’m lucky to do what I’m doing and I hope I can keep living the dream for as long as possible.”
In the years since they’ve left, hockey in Denmark has grown. At the World Junior Championships, the Danish team made the quarter-finals three years in a row from 2015 to 2017 and was among the top group of 10 teams for five straight years before being relegated this year. The senior team is now in the top group at the World Championships for the 17th consecutive year and, of course, hosted it last year.
“It was amazing,” he said of the experience of playing at home last year. “It’s always fun to see how much hockey has grown in Denmark. The fans were amazing, the organization was amazing, there was lots of media coverage and hopefully what it did was get more kids interested in playing hockey.”
On the ice, the Danes played well by winning four out of seven games but still barely missed advancing to the quarter-finals.
“It wasn’t just having home-ice advantage with your fans, but outside of the rink being comfortable with the food, with the language, with your surroundings, those were big factors,” said Boedker.
The team’s last group stage game was a must-win against Latvia. Said Boedker: “We lost 1-0 unfortunately, but we’ll try to make it a different story this time around and see if we can get to the quarter-finals.”
That’s not going to be an easy feat, however. Denmark has now picked up five of nine possible points against France, Germany and Great Britain, but ahead of the team now are Finland, the United States, Canada and host Slovakia. From the 12 points available there, the Danes are going to need a minimum of five and get a fair bit of help in order to advance. The best scenario they might be able to hope for is to be within three points of Slovakia heading into the last game and then win it in regulation.
“We can probably say the four toughest teams are coming up for us in the next four games,” Boedker admitted. “They might not be big games for some of those teams, but they’re all big for us.
“We’d better strap on our helmets tight, battle hard and try to win.”