75 years is a long time to wait for anything.
Denmark joined the IIHF in 1946, and since then has never reached the Olympic Games. That time is over after the Danes defeated rivals Norway 2-0 in the deciding game of the Final Olympic Qualification Group F tournament, earning their first-ever trip to the pinnacle of international ice hockey.
Forward Frederik Storm scored the game winner and goaltender Sebastian Dahm posted a 26-save shutout against the Norwegians to help drive their team to a historic qualification.
"It's huge," said Storm after the game. "We have such a good group here and we finally managed to succeed and qualify. I've played in three qualification tournaments and we never made it before, so to do it with this group is amazing."
"I'm just so relieved, we have been chasing this for years," said Dahm.
The game started fast and furious with end-to-end action through the opening period, although no pucks ended up in the net.
The game within the game was without a doubt the goaltending duel between Henrik Haukeland for Norway and Dahm, with neither netminder giving up a score through nearly two periods despite serious pressure at both ends of the ice.
Denmark nearly went down early when Sebastian Dahm’s clearing attempt was intercepted in the Danish zone, giving up a wide-open scoring opportunity that was saved by a diving block from Jesper Jensen Aabo.
At the other end, in the second period Henrik Haukeland had to stand tall on two breakaway opportunities by Denmark to keep the score at 0-0.
But the breakthrough finally came with just over two minutes left in the second period, when Markus Lauridsen spotted the Norwegian defence out of position from his own zone and rifled a pass up to Frederik Storm waiting in the Norwegian end. Storm gained possession and outraced defenceman Erlend Lesund to the goal, beating Haukeland between the legs for the 1-0 lead.
The Danes kept up the offensive pressure in the final frame, while at the other end locking up Norway and preventing the home team from getting any quality scoring chances.
Then it would be their star player Nikolaj Ehlers who would put the game on ice with another breakaway score on a great pass form Frans Nielsen with 3:12 remaining, sending Denmark into the Olympic Games and a new tier of elite ice hockey.