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National team of Denmark

(27-07-00 ada) Many people expected Denmark to be a black horse of the World Championship Pool "B" in Poland. However it did not happen. The Danish national team was pursued by injuries of key players and the Danish team was not lucky either. Denmark lost its last three games by one goal and ended up in fifth place. This cannot change the reality though. Danish hockey is really growing and heading for Pool "A". More information about the Danish national team is available in an article by Sto.

Author: © Sto Author information
Date: 27-07-00
Language correction: Echo
Other languages: Czech (by Vykuk), French (by Jack Barron), German (by OKI)

A few years ago nobody was really interested in the Danish national team, not even the players in the Danish league, but then Swedish coach Jim Brithén came, and times have changed. In the start the Danish team still performed bad, but step by step things started to get better, and in 1998 Denmark was placed ahead of Norway in the B-pool. Anyhow Norway got promoted to the A-group the next year, because they were the hosts of the A-Group Championships.

Then in 1999 the climax came, Denmark won the B-pool on home ice. Denmark was unbeaten althrough the tournament, and was therefore the right champion. Denmark was now ready to play in the A-group qualification-pool. Although Denmark beat Italy in the first round, Denmark failed to qualify to the A-pool. A bitter pill to swallow (as we say in Denmark) for the national team. But that's life! And the Danish rose again! In the first round of the olympic qualification Denmark was set to play against C-nationHungary, C-nation Netherlands and "a-nation" Japan. In the first match against Netherlands, Denmark won 2-1, in a boring hockeymatch. Denmark won again against Hungary in a messy match. Now came the battle of the first place, and qualification-spot. It was a real thriller but Denmark won and was now ready for the next round.
    Then came the B-pool this year, and Denmark got down on the earth again. A lot of injured Danish key-players, resulted in a failure. But the "Lions" didn't play that bad, they tied against Poland with Mariusz Czerkawski on the team, and did only lose with one against Germany and Great Britain.
    Anybody who watches the Swedish hockey league (SHL) will know that there is a lot of good Danish players. Jens Nielsen in Leksand, Jesper Duus and goalie-prospect Peter Hirsch in MoDo, and of course the superstar of the Danish team, Montreal Candiens' draft pick Kim Staal. Kim is now playing for Malmö in the Swedish league, but he will probably start to play for Montreals farmteam Fredricton Canadians soon. In that case he would be the first Danish player in the NHL ever.
    The swedes used to call us "Holiday on ice", but in the future I think that Denmark will be better than nations as Germany and Norway, and become an established A-nation.

Christoffer H. Perdersen etc.

Most exciting finals ever in Denmark!

(18-07-00 ada) The national team with very promising future is Denmark. Definitely! You would not believe how great hockey attitude is in this small European country. No past, no stars yet but small improvements every year. The national team gets better, the Danish league gets more thrilling. This year's finals in Danish league were the best in the whole history. Do not miss the part where the fifth deciding game is decribed! That is not hockey that was a crime novel written by Hitchcock.. Another short article about the Danish national team is coming soon.

Author: © Hawk Author information
Date: 18-07-00
Language correction: FlyBear
Other languages: Czech (by Vykucka)

For the second time in history, the Danish hockey finals 2000 went to the full 5 games. (The Danish Finals have gone to game 5 once before. It was in 1998 when Herning beat Rungsted in arguably as exciting finals as the 2000 finals. - Jesper Schultz) The participating teams were the two Jutland clubs (Frederikshavn and Herning). The coach of Frederikshavn was the Czech, Jiri Justra. Herning coach was a Finn Petri Skriko, a veteran of over 500 NHL games during his playing days.

As a recap for those of you who are not that familiar with Danish hockey, the regular season features 10 clubs that play 4 times against each other; a total of 36 games. The best 8 clubs advantages to the playoffs. The 8 playoff teams are divided into 2 pools. This year, Frederikshavn, Odense, Rungsted and Vojens were in Pool A. Pool B contained Herning, Esbjerg, Rødovre and Aalborg. Last year, Frederikshavn and Odense of Pool A and Esbjerg and Herning of Pool B advanced to the semifinals. The semifinals were Frederikshavn against Esbjerg and Herning against Odense. From the start of the 1999-2000 season, Frederikshavn was the favorite to win the championship. Suddenly one of their key players, Swedish goalkeeper Johan Westermark, got injured. Westermark was the victim of an unnecessary attack by Pavel Kostichkin of Rungsted. Westermark suffered a broken hand in the incident. Frederikshavn was no longer the only favorite. Esbjerg and Herning both had a shot at going all the way.
    Herning did not have any problems beating Odense, sweeping their best of 5 semifinals. It was the first time ever that Odense reached the semifinals. A major factor in the series was American Todd Björkstrand. Björkstrand has played in Herning since 1987-88 and has been the key reason for the club's succuss in the nineties. The other series, pitting Frederikshavn against Esbjerg was much tougher. The series went the full 5 games before Frederikshavn prevailed.
    Frederikshavn has been dominating Danish hockey for the past 2 seasons. Frederikshavn only lost 10 games out of 48 in 1998-99, but was upset by Rødovre in the previous year's final; losing in a surprising sweep. In 1999-2000 Frederikshavn only lost 9 out of 52 games. That wasn't enough for the Fredrikshavn fans. They wanted nothing less than the gold. The players could not take the pressure and lost game 1 of the semifinals against Esbjerg 1-4. The big problem for Frederikshavn seemed to be the goaltending. Westermark was out for the rest of the season and his young replacement, Mads Johnsen, hadn't played many minutes in the Elite League level. Nevertheless, Frederikshavn came back to win games 2 and 3. Esbjerg took game 4 before Frederikshavn closed in out in 5. And then came the finals....

Game 1 in Frederikshavn against Herning 5-1 (1-0)
Frederikshavn grabbed a 1-0 series lead after downing Herning 5-1 in the first game. In game one of the finals it was easy to see that Frederikshavn was skating in a higher gear than Herning. Herning hadn't played for the last week because of the quick elimination of Odense. Herning was drawn in to many penalties as they desperately tried to keep Frederikshavn away from the goal. Only 12 minutes into the first period Frederikshavn led by stunning 3-0. The game seemed over. But, as seen before, Todd Björkstrand scored on a fantastic slapshot, putting Herning on the board. Björkstrand scored from the middle of the ice after the puck hit the back boards, rebounded, and hit the Frederikshavn goaltender Johnsen just before time expired in the first period. Frederikshavn easily scored 4-1 and 5-1 goals. 3 goals of Frederikshavn were scored on powerplay. The Czech Karel Smid of Frederikshavn was again a key player in powerplay.

Game 2 in Herning against Frederikshavn 5-4 SD (1-1)
Herning knotted the series at one game apiece after winning a 5-4 overtime thriller on their home ice. Björkstrand did it again? He scored the game winner at 4:01 of sudden death. Game Two was one of the best games seen in Denmark in many seasons. Ronny Larsen, the league MVP, put Herning ahead 1-0 only 20 seconds into the first period. Frederikshavn was quick to respond. The first period ended as even as could be: the score was 1-1 and the shots on goals were 18-18. That did not include 3 shots that the hit the post. Herning went ahead 2-1 but 2 subsequent powerplay goals sent Frederikshavn ahead 3-2. Russian Ilya Dubkov scored to make it 4-2 in the third period. Herning quickly trimmed the deficit back to one after a tally by Scott Stevens. The game was once again up for grabs. As time was becoming their enemy, Herning scored the equalizer, setting up the overtime finish.

Game 3 in Frederikshavn against Herning 2-1 (2-1)
Frederikshavn edged Herning by 2-1 count in Game 3 to take a 2 games to 1 lead in the sereis. The game saw two very nervous teams take the ice. Both clubs were feeling the pressure of trying to move within a game of the championship. As many anticipated, Herning changed their goalkeeper for Game 3. Canadian goalie Greg Taylor had allowed 9 goals in the last 2 playoff games, several of the stoppable variety. Taylor's letdown gave backup Peter Therkildsen a chance to shine. Both teams seemed nervous in the first period, which ended scoreless. Ronny Larsen of Herning scored the first goal less than 1 minute into the second period. A native Dane, Larsen formerly played Division One hockey in Sweden for Oskershamn and Rögle. Klaus Nielsen equalized the game with a powerplay goal midway through the period. Late in the same period, Anders Thomsen scored the game winner for Frederikshavn, placing a hard slap shot up where it belongs... the top shelf corner!

Game 4 in Herning against Frederikshavn 4-2 (2-2)
Frederikshavn was now just one win away from the championship trophy. At this point, Frederikshavn was 5-0-0 (including regular season, trophy cup and playoffs) on home ice against Herning for the season and 2 wins and 1 loss in Herning (including regular season and playoffs). Things did not look good for Herning. Instead of folding, however, Herning forced a fifth and deciding game, much to the delight of the record crowd of 3761. Much of the crowd had not been seated yet before Ronny Larsen gave Herning a quick 1-0 lead just 12 seconds into play. As usual, Frederikshavn was quick to respond and equalized the score. This was the third game in a row that Larsen sent Herning ahead and Frederikshavn was quick to tie. Herning proved to be the better team in the first period and skated off with a 3-2 lead after the first period. They easily have been ahead by greater numbers. Still very much in the game, Frederikshavn was much better in the second period and could have scored the tying goal but could not manage to find the net. Taylor was back in the goal for Herning but he continued to look shaky. If the attackers of Frederikshavn had been more quick and effective with their shots they could have scored a couple of more goals and closed out the series. In the third period, Herning was very strong and did a very professional job, taking a deserved 4-2 home victory. Some drama happened when Lars Mølgaard of Frederikshavn viciously slashed Frederik Åkesson in the 55th minute of play.
Referee Jens Christian Fossaberg did not see the episode but was notified by the Herning players. Fossaberg called a 2 minutes slashing, but Åkesson went to the referee and showed him his finger. As a result Fossaberg changed the 2 minutes penalty to a 5 minutes major. A little bit strange way of judging when Mr. Fossaberg did not see the episode. Earlier in the game Scott Stevens of Herning almost slaughter Mike Grey of Frederikshavn, but Jens Christian Fossaberg also did not see this episode.

Game 5 in Frederikshavn against Herning 7-6 SD (3-2) and wins the championship
Game 5 in Frederikshavn was a classic. Fredrikshavn won a wild 7-6 match in overtime to d win the Danish championship. What a game! I think this was the most fantastic match I've ever witnessed in my 16 years of watching hockey! After just 2:36 of the first period, Frederikshavn already enjoyed a 3-0 lead. Herning goalkeeper Taylor did not make much of a case for himself to get a contract extension. He was awful. After the third goal, he was pulled and replaced by Therkildsen. The beer was flowing in Frederikshavn. Half way through the first period, an arena record crowd of approximately 4000 had drunk their way through the entire beer supply at the arena. A Carlsberg truck was immediately called for emergency assistance! After Frederikshavn took a 5-1 lead in the first period, the deciding game seemed to be turning into a laugher. Instead, Herning chipped away at the deficit and, through sheer will and hard work, eventually managed to tie the game. Herning's talented youngster, Christoffer Kjærgaard, scored the 5-5 equalizer early into the third period. The fans of Frederikshavn suddenly got quiet as unpleasant memories were conjured from last year's loss to Rødovre. The last time Frederikshavn won the championship was in 1989 while Herning last won in 1998. Torben Benjaminsen sent the Frederikshavn fans into a frenzy by scoring the gold medal winning goal.
Torben Benjaminsen did send Frederikshavn in Gold position, but only 18 seconds later the game was tied up again. This time by Todd Björkstrand. The Russian star Ilya Dubkov of Frederikshavn scored the game winning goal 4.47 into the Sudden Death period. Only 13 seconds before the end of Sudden Death which would have sent the teams into a penalty shoot-out. If that had been necessary Frederikshavn would have used injured Johan Westermark who was dressed up for the game. Westermark, the same goalkeeper who broke his hand 3 weeks earlier.
    The championship celebration took place all night in Frederikshavn and the players showed up with shaved heads at Aktivitel later on Thursday night in Frederikshavn. Most surprising was Czech player Karel Smid, who sacrificed his long Jaromir Jagr look-a-like hair style.
    What a season this was and what a final between Herning and Frederikshavn! Thanks to both teams for brilliant hockey.

John Christiansen

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