Danes hammer Austria for third win
by Lucas AYKROYD|16 MAY 2023
Nikolaj Ehlers (#24) extended his goal streak as Denmark defeated Austria 6-2 for its third consecutive victory at the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.
photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation / Andrea Cardin
Niklas Andersen set the pace with a goal and two assists as Denmark downed Austria 6-2 on Tuesday to stay unbeaten in Tampere. Denmark has won three straight games to open the IIHF World Championship for the first time in history.

"Three wins in three games!" said Andersen, whose team scored four third-period goals and faces winless Germany next. "It feels good. I thought it was obviously a closer game than it looks like on the scoreboard. We kind of ran away with it at the end. But we're happy. That's where we wanted to be after three games. And now we take the next game."

Nikolaj Ehlers, who struggled with injuries this year with the Winnipeg Jets, extended his goal streak to three games and added a helper. The 27-year-old Danish winger is looking like the perennial scoring threat who has racked up 20 or more goals in six of his eight NHL seasons.

"As long as we're winning, I'm happy," said Ehlers. "It doesn't mean anything if you score goals and you lose games."

Peter Schneider chipped in a goal and an assist for Austria, which faces the U.S. on Wednesday.

Asked what Austria needs to get into the win column, Schneider said: "Be competitive for 60 minutes. I think it’s all the components. Physically, mentally, tactically. Those are the things we have to look at and find out the reasons why we have those breakdowns. And just do better."

The Danes have two quarter-final appearances under their belts (2010, 2016) and would love to complete the proverbial hat trick here in Finland. Coach Heinz Ehlers’ squad set a new Danish record with four wins total at last year’s tournament, but settled for ninth place.

Danish starting goalie Frederik Dichow had another quality outing as shots favoured Denmark 27-21. David Kickert was swamped in net for Austria.

The Austrians, who have just one point in three games, are praying they can stay in the top division for a fifth consecutive Worlds. They finished 14th in 2019, 16th in 2021, and 11th in 2022. There was no relegation in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ehlers drew first blood with his tournament-leading fourth goal at 9:32, snaring a failed Austrian clearing attempt in the slot and firing it past Kickert’s right skate.

The physicality picked up as the opening stanza wore on, such as when Danish blueliner Anders Krogsgaard ran the 193-cm, 101-kg Austrian forward Paul Huber into the end boards. Austria’s Dominique Heinrich came close to equalizing, rattling a point shot off Dichow’s left post.

Austria draw even at 7:15 of the second period on the power play as Heinrich's low point shot deflected in off the right skate of captain Thomas Raffl at the crease.

Andersen restored the Danish lead at 13:27. Felix Scheel jarred the puck loose with a big hit near the Austrian blue line and handed it to Aagard. He dished it to Andersen, whose quick shot beat Kickert over the glove.

"He somehow found me in the middle," Andersen said. "I just thought I'd maybe take the puck to the net and it worked out well. I think that's what we can do better as a team, get more pucks on net. That's how we're going to score goals."

At 6:37 of the third period, captain Jesper Jensen Aabo made it 3-1 for Denmark with a rising slapper.

Schneider answered back at 8:40, going to the net to tip in a nice backhand feed from Marco Rossi.

Still, Nicklas Jensen zapped home Denmark's tournament-leading fifth power play goal at 11:46 for a 4-2 lead. Mattias Lassen and Patrick Russell rounded out the scoring in the last seven minutes.

"To be honest, I think we just take it one game at a time," Russell said. "We kind of knew the first four games obviously would be huge for us if we want to go to the quarterfinals. Germany has been good, and we're looking forward to that game."

Despite the enthusiastic singing and drum-beating of United Fans Team Austria (UFTA), which unfurled big flags and banners over their section, coach Roger Bader’s boys couldn’t mount a comeback. Austria had to make do without defenceman David Reinbacher, who was injured against Sweden.

This was just the fourth Denmark-Austria game in tournament history. It was a far cry from the first meeting in 1949 when an overmatched Danish squad lost 25-4.

The last two games (relegation-round affairs) saw Denmark winning 4-3 in 2005 and 5-2 in 2009. In the “it’s a small world” category, a 19-year-old Mikkel Bodker led the way in the 2009 game with two goals.
Denmark vs Austria - 2023 IIHF WM