Sogaard dressed in three games in Buffalo, but was the third option behind goaltenders Kasper Krog and Emil Gransoe as Denmark avoided relegation by defeating Belarus.
“Just the fact that you have to be there every day and you have to be ready for every game,” Sogaard said of what he learned. “You have one bad game and the next day you have to win otherwise you’re going down to the relegation games. I learned a lot and it’s just exciting to be a part of.
“Just being around those guys, it was good and I felt like it was good for me.”
Sogaard is no stranger to the international game. He won bronze medals with Denmark at the both the 2017 and 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship Division I Group A. Sogaard also won the Under-17 Best Goaltender award in 2016 and 2017 in Denmark.
“It was preparation, obviously this is the big tournament,” Sogaard said of the under-18 experience. “Just learning a lot over the years and taking it all in. Doing that you’re able to take in the experience while you doing it.”
Danish coach Olaf Eller has seen Sogaard take last year’s World Junior experience and build on it this season.
“I think it was big for him in his development to see a World Championship, how hard you have to battle every day in practice to get better. He has taken a huge step in the WHL this year and you saw some great flashes of that.
“He’s in way better shape which makes him able to move faster and move all game long. He’s more consistent than he was last year.”
Sogaard credits his work in the off-season for being in better shape this season.
“Focused in the summer and worked in Medicine Hat - we have a good program there and a good way to develop both on ice and off ice and being able to have those facilities that we do there, it’s exciting and you want to be in the gym as much as possible,” he said.
The 6-foot-7, 196-pound goaltender’s performance in Vancouver could have an impact in determining his draft stock for the 2019 selection in June. Sogaard is currently fifth on ISS Hockey's ranking of the top-10 goaltenders eligible for the draft.
Sogaard comes to Vancouver following a hot start to the season with the Western Hockey League’s Medicine Hat Tigers. After going 2-0-0 with a 1.50 goals-against average and a 96.6 save percentage, Sogaard was named both the CHL and WHL’s Goaltender of the Week prior to leaving the Tigers to join Denmark.
In 19 WHL games this season the 18-year-old is 10-4-2 with 93.1 save percentage and a 2.39 G.A.A. helping Medicine Hat to a 17-15-3 record prior to the Christmas break. He ranks third amongst all WHL goaltenders in save percentage and fifth in goals-against average.
“It’s been a pretty good start to the season and I’ve been very consistent and played well so I think it’s been good,” Sogaard said. “Just got to keep it up and keep working hard.”
Sogaard spent last season with the Austin Bruins of the NAHL posting a 2.64 G.A.A. and a 90.9 save percentage in 22 games. After being selected in the first round of the 2018 CHL Import Draft, Sogaard decided to make the move to Medicine Hat in order to further develop his game.
“When you get a chance to play in the best junior hockey league in the world, it’s something you can’t say no to,” he said. “Had some good goalie coaches in Minnesota and really thank him a lot, but he wanted me to move on as well. Getting the opportunity to go to Medicine Hat, is something I couldn’t turn down and very happy that I didn’t.”
Sogaard came into this season with specific areas he wanted to work on with Tigers goaltending consultant J.F. Martel.
“My footwork, working on quick feet and getting better everyday,” he said. “I’m getting in better shape, working hard and just learning to live like a pro. If I do that at this level, I just think I can prepare myself for the next level as well.”
Growing up Sogaard idolized Carey Price and the calm demeanour the Montreal Canadiens goaltender displays on the ice, but admitted seeing fellow Dane Frederik Andersen star for the Toronto Maple Leafs was encouraging.
“Seeing him going to play in the NHL, it’s motivating and it’s a nice to see that it can actually happen for a Danish goalie ‘cause there’s only him,” said Sogaard. It’s just motivating and something I really like to achieve.”
A native of Aalborg, Denmark, Sogaard is looking to become just the third player ever selected from his home town, and the first goaltender to accomplish the feat.
“Obviously it’s something you want to do, you want to make your home town proud and most importantly I want to make my family proud and my friends - that’s what I think most about,” said Sogaard. “Aalborg is my home town and I’m very happy to have the roots that I do.”
If selected, he’ll become the first player drafted from Aalborg since Nik Ehlers was chosen by the Winnipeg Jets in 2014. Despite the age difference, Sogaard welcomes the on-ice competition with the Jets forward.
“Worked out with him and stuff like that in the summers. I know him a little bit, I think I’m going to work out with him (next) summer so it’ll be good,” Sogaard said. “It’s motivating to see what it takes, have that first hand and see what it takes. It’s motivating and you want to beat him when you can. Even though it’s super hard, you want to beat him and be your best.”
Sogaard will get another opportunity to showcase his game for NHL scouts next month when he participates in the CHL/NHL Top Prospects game in Red Deer, Alberta.
“It’s great to be selected to that kind of game,” Sogaard said. “It’s something that I’m very thankful for and just thankful for the coaching staff in Medicine Hat to give me the chance to showcase my skills at that level.”