Danes rally past Belarus
by Derek O'Brien|28 MAY 2021
photo: Chris Tanouye / HHOF-IIHF Images

Trailing 2-1 after 40 minutes, Denmark rallied for four goals in a span of 7:17 in the third period to defeat Belarus 5-2. Markus Lauridsen, Nichlas Hardt, Alexander True and Mathias Lassen each had two points for Denmark.

“I’m really proud of the performance from the guys tonight,” said Danish head coach Heinz Ehlers. “We worked so hard and over 60 minutes we were the better team, but we didn’t have that scoring touch or luck in the first 40. Suddenly, we found a way to score goals in the third period from our young players who brought a lot of energy and really made a difference today.”

Denmark outshot Belarus 37-18 in the game.

It took just a little over two minutes for Belarus to open the scoring, with Vladislav Kodola finding Artyom Demkov in full flight with a long lead pass. Demkov then made a nifty move to avoid a Danish defenceman and beat Dahm through the legs.

“I did what I came to do,” said 29-year-old Demkov, who was playing in his first game of this tournament and scored his first World Championship goal since 2011. “Energy, forecheck, everything that I can. But it wasn’t enough and we lost the game.”

Denmark answered just three minutes later on the power play, when Nicolai Meyer bobbed and weaved with the puck in the high slot until he found a shooting lane, then picked the far corner of the net past a screened Kolosov.

Denmark vs Belarus - 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship
DEN BLR 28 MAY 2021

The teams traded potential go-ahead chances in the first half of the opening period. The Belarusians had a golden chance to regain the lead on a power play of their own but Francis Pare send a tight-angle one-timer behind Dahm and out the other side past the far post. And then Jesper Jensen burst up the middle with speed and skated right in on Kolosov, who denied him with the right pad.

At 10:07, Belarus’ Sergei Drozd caught Julian Jacobsen with a high hit and was given a major penalty and game misconduct for checking to the head and neck area. Jacobsen would return to the game. The Danes carried the play throughout the five minutes and continued until the end of the period getting shots on Kolosov, but nothing really dangerous.

“The penalty made it hard,” said Belarus head coach Mikhail Zahkarov, who noted the injuries the team has to German Nesterov and Sergei Kostytsin. “We need every player we have. They outshot us in the first period and again in the second, even though we were leading.”

“The first power play we scored pretty quick,” said Ehlers. “On that five-minute power play, we didn’t stick to the game plan and we made it difficult for ourselves, but it brought a certain amount of momentum and we kept on going. We were talking about getting the puck deep and working on the defencemen and I think the guys did that all game. In the end it made a difference and it looked like we were in better shape than they were.”

The Danes continued their dominance through the first half of the second period, but Belarus scored the only goal of the middle frame despite getting outshot 12-7. Just past the game’s midpoint, Jensen was sent off for interference, and it took Belarus just four seconds to strike. From the faceoff, the puck was passed back to Stepan Falkovski, who perfectly teed up a one-timer right in Mikhail Stefanovich’s wheelhouse and the Dinamo Minsk defenceman let it rip through everybody.

But if they were frustrated by their lack of production through two periods despite dominating in terms of shots on goal and possession, the Danes made up for it in the third period.

“The energy in the locker room was really positive,” said True. “We play a very patient game and we stick to our structure pretty well, so we weren’t too worried. We just knew we had to go out and put the pressure on and keep coming at them.”

In his first World Championship game, Matthias Asperup tied it at 44:58, firing home the loose puck after the original shot from the point had been blocked in the slot, with captain Jesper Jensen Aabo making sure to retrieve the puck as a keepsake.

“A win and a goal in my first game, that’s perfect,” said the 26-year-old Asperup. “It was a tee shot and I think it was hit in front of the net and jumped out to my stick. I just shot it and hoped for the best and it went in.”

Less than three minutes later, Mathias From gave the Danes their first lead of the game, streaking down the right wing and beating Kolosov over the glove on the near side.

“They asked us to play more precisely, but nobody asked us to sit back,” Stefanovich said about Belarus’ third-period collapse. “But we got off the game plan and were too cautious.”

Just two minutes after that, Marcus Lauridsen made it 4-2, taking a pass from Hardt and cranking a shot from the point under the crossbar.

Finally, True made it 5-2 with 7:45 to play, tipping Mattias Lassen’s low point shot through Kolosov’s legs.

True described: “We forced them to turn the puck over and Hardt did a really good job skating the puck up the ice and curled up and found Lassen behind the zone. He took a good shot and I got a tip on it went through the goalie. It felt good to get that one.”

The result is big for the Group A standings as we get deep into the group stage, as Denmark moves into fourth place with eight points, while Belarus remains tied for seventh with four. 

Denmark vs Belarus - 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship