Monday, April 26, 2010
On this date in 2003, Denmark pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the history of the World Championships with a shocking 5-2 win over the United States.
Making it's return to the Top Division for the first time in 54 years, Denmark immediately scored it's biggest hockey victory ever in the opening game of the tournament, held in Tampere, Finland.
Kim Staal, who had seven years of professional experience in the Swedish Elitserien, led the Danes with two goals and two assists.
The Americans, with 12 NHLers on it's roster, outshot Denmark 55-22 but could not solve goaltender Peter Hirsch, who made several outstanding saves.
Bo Nordby-Anderson and Staal both scored on breakaways, putting backhanders past American goaltender Ryan Miller 3:42 apart to give Denmark a 2-0 lead in under 10 minutes of the opening period. Jesper Damgaard increased the Danish lead with a one-timer slapshot from the point at 12:21.
Jim Fahey got the United States on the board with a power-play goal at 16:06 of the first period.
At the start of the second period, Chris Rogles, who played in Germany for the Cologne Sharks replaced Miller in the American goal only to have Ronny Larsen score high on the glove side at 3:09 on yet another breakaway.
Kelly Fairchild cut the deficit to 2 with a goal at 2:24 of the third period to give the United States hope, but Hirsch stood strong in goal as the Danes killed of multiple penalties in the period to hold off the Americans despite the huge shot advantage they held.
At the final buzzer, hundreds of rowdy, flag-waving Danish fans celebrated in the stands, with some even brought to tears.
Denmark would lose it's next two group games to Russia 6-1 and Switzerland 6-2. Based on their win over the US, the Danes advanced to the next round of group play, where they would tie eventual 2003 World Champions Canada 2-2, as surprising a result as their win over the United States.
Losses to Sweden (7-1) and Latvia (4-2) would end the fun for Denmark, but they had to consider their tournament a success, having avoided relegation in their long-awaited return to the Top Division.
Denmark currently ranks 13th in the IIHF Mens' World Rankings and has played at the top level of the World Championships since 2003, finishing as high as 10th in 2007. While finding themselves in the Relegation round three out of the last seven years, the Danes have successfully avoided the drop each time.
Look for them in the 2010 World Championships, which begin in 12 days, in Group D with Finland, the United States and host Germany. The German program is in a down period and hopes to make a good showing on home ice. Only a special rule preventing their relegation as hosts of this year's tournament kept them from the drop in 2009, which should give the Danes hope of advancing out of Group D and avoiding the relegation round. Their game against Germany on May 12 will be key for their survival.
Current Danes in the NHL include the Canucks Jannik Hansen, Mikkel Bødker of the Coyotes, Franz Nielsen of the Islanders, Lars Eller of the Blues, Philip Larsen of the Stars and the Senators Peter Regin. Other successful Danes currently play in the Swedish Elitserien.
Today's jersey is a Nike 2005 Denmark National Team Jesper Damgaard jersey. Damgaard, a defenseman, is the long-time captain of the Danish National Team and has played for Denmark at the World Championships 14 times, leading the team in games played with 240. This jersey features a pair of custom printed Oddset sponsor patches.
Due to either a serious lack of Danish hockey highlights on YouTube or our ability to search for them in Danish, or quite likely a combination of both, our video of choice today is a classic featuring Denmark vs. Japan, with the most emphatic "own goal" in perhaps the history of ice hockey by Japan. Surely one to add to your favorites.
Next up are highlights from the recent 2009 World Championships from an exciting and close fought game when Denmark takes on rivals Norway, featuring several of Denmark's NHLers in a spirited battle to avoid the relegation round, the annual goal at the World Championships for teams at the level of Denmark and Norway. Do not miss the pass the Norwegian makes two minutes into the video to victimize our Mr. Damgaard.
Also from the same game, one of those hits that gives meaning to the phrase "knocked him into next week."
Our final highlight today is Lars Eller's first NHL goal, which came in his debut on November 5, 2009.