Since returning to the elite division in 2003, Denmark has achieved that feat against the likes of the U.S. (5-2 in 2003), Finland (4-1 in 2010), Slovakia (6-0 in 2010), Czechia (4-3 in a shootout in 2014), and Sweden (4-3 in 2021). At the Beijing Olympics, the Danes also earned their first IIHF win against Switzerland (5-3 in 2022).
But let’s face it: edging Canada 3-2 at the Helsinki Ice Hall on Monday was extra-special. It wasn’t just about taking revenge for that oft-rehashed 47-0 loss to the Canadians at the 1949 Worlds in Stockholm. It was because Canada – the reigning World Champions – is the country that invented hockey and remains the benchmark by which most IIHF nations measure themselves.
Regardless of whether the Danes place even higher than their historic seventh-place finish in Beijing or fall short, Markus Lauridsen, Peter Regin, and Mathias Bau – who scored the goals against Canada – will always regard this moment as a career highlight. Ditto for starting goalie Sebastian Dahm who did his country proud with 29 saves. Every man in a Danish uniform will tell the story of what happened on 23 May, 2022 for years to come.
IIHF.com caught up with Denmark’s Nikolaj Ehlers, Frans Nielsen, and Morten Poulsen after the game. Let’s hear it about in their words.
Nikolaj Ehlers, on what it means to beat Canada for the first time in 73 years: “It means a lot. Not many people believed that we can do that. But we did. The belief that we have in our group is out of this world, and that makes things like this possible.”
Frans Nielsen, on how Markus Lauridsen, who opened the scoring, is stepping up in the absence of his injured brother Oliver: “He's playing with confidence. He's a good skater, and when he moves his feet, you know he can join the rush. He's special. Without Oliver now, he's a huge part of our D.”
Ehlers, on the feeling around his team: “This is why I love to play for Denmark. This is why I always say ‘Yes’ to coming. This group is so special. We worked so hard, we played against the top team, and we always give ourselves a chance. That’s amazing.”
Nielsen, on whether this victory qualifies as a miracle: “Beating Canada is always big. Maybe a little one!”
Ehlers, on the confidence that goals like captain Peter Regin’s 2-0 shorthanded goal off the rush demonstrate: “We know what we can do. You know, in those three games in the middle of the tournament, we weren't able to capitalize on those shots and on our opportunities. And we have in the last few games, so we've got to keep shooting. That's the way you score goals.”
Nielsen, on what he remembers about Denmark’s historic tie against Canada at the 2003 Worlds in Turku: “It was a 2-2 game. I think we had less play in the offensive zone than today! They were probably a little more on us. We scored two [goals] early in the first period against them and they battled back. But you know, when you play these top four or six nations and get a good result, it's always fun as a small hockey country like Denmark.”
Nielsen, on the direction the Danish team is heading at these 2022 Worlds: “I feel like we've been good the whole tournament. We've been good defensively. We know when we play to our strengths in our defensive system, we're tough to beat, tough to score on. We showed again today that we're not easy to play against. And when we have a breakdown, Sebastian [Dahm] has been there for us.”
Poulsen, on what it will take to follow up the historic win over Canada by beating Slovakia: “I think we need to do a lot of the same, the same courage and the same taking on the challenge. We're gonna play a really strong opponent again tomorrow. So we have to start in our own end like we did tonight. I think we can hurt teams coming forward on the counter as well. It’s gonna be a close game again tomorrow against another really strong opponent.”