They might have been defeated but the Danish WJC team put on a spirited performance that showed exactly how much potential lurks, particularly in goal, inside a team that includes talents like Oliver Bjorkstrand, it’s just a pity Russia slipped by them.
The Danes At The WJC
• Only one group win
• Lost semi against Russia
• Future hopes show through
Those of you who like to bet on sports in Denmark may today be at least a little thankful for the completely inept performance of the Swiss team in one of the most loquaciously named competitions in the world. The International Ice Hockey Federation 2016 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships is thankfully usually abbreviated to the World Junior Championships or WJC, and this year has been a superb display of the very best in up-coming talent……well……except for the Swiss.
Losing all of your group games is always embarrassing, regardless of the sport, and the Swiss will be morose at their lack of performance when the pressure was on, their 10-1 defeat at the hands of the USA perhaps the most painful of memories to endure, however the Swiss did spare the Danish WJC team some blushes allowing the crew from Copenhagen to make it through to the quarterfinals on the back of just one win of their own, which is hardly the performance they wanted either.
That win was, of course, against the hapless Swiss, and only a 2-1 victory at that, which is hardly convincing, but as their first game it gave them an impetus that was only blunted by the capable Canadians who smacked them 6-1 in their second. This left the Danes needing a good result against neighbors and regional rivals Sweden, but the Swedes are never easy opponents, and the 5-0 loss will be a sore point with Danish supporters for some time to come.
World Junior Championships In Helsinki
Naturally there was that last game in which the Danish WJC team could redeem themselves and make taking advantage of Danish gambling laws to back them more than a act of nationalistic folly, and on the face of it there was every hope they could beat the Americans. Unfortunately the US has been on a roll of late, and on New Year’s Eve in Helsinki it rolled right over the Danes in a 4-1 drubbing that left the Danes in fourth place and in the quarterfinals by the skin of Swiss teeth.
Of course finishing in fourth place meant facing the winners of the other group, Russia, a team that hadn’t lost and didn’t appear likely to do so any time soon. What transpired, however, was not the Moscow massacre many had predicted, and there were moments when it seemed the Danes might pull off a famous victory over the eastern powerhouse, and it was only Vladislav Kamenev’s overtime winner that snatched a narrow 4-3 victory.
That there was only overtime at all because Vladislav Kamenev scored in the final 44 seconds of regulation play says much about just how close the Danes came to a place in the semifinals, and speaks volumes to how much attention the Milwaukee Admirals’ player is going to get when the ice is empty on January 6th. For the Danish WJC team, however, the attention is going to be on fixing the deficits that gave them such a mountain to climb in the WJC semifinal.
Danish WJC Team Shows Potential Against Russia
To be fair on Olaf Eller’s Danish WJC team their performance against Russia was precisely how all their other games should have been, right up to the point they lost in the first five minutes of overtime, however I wouldn’t go gambling news coverage in the Danish press will highlight those rays of hope. Disappointment throughout the WJC has made for some cutting tabloid remarks, however there are some positives that the Danes can take away from the tournament.
The foremost of these is Thomas Lillie who kept out 43 of the 46 Russian shots, a superb .935 save ratio and, if this tournament gave him some confidence to go with the spirited energy he exuded as a member of the Danish WJC team in 2016, his future is not just bright but iridescent. Add to this fellow net keeper Mathias Seldrup putting up a resilient performance and keen observers will be noting just how difficult it might be to get a shot past the Danes in the future.
The Danish fans then might feel justly aggrieved that the Danish WJC team didn’t perform to the best of its abilities, had it played in the group stage as it did in the quarterfinals their opposition might not have been so tough, but there’s enough potential peeking through to give them hope for the future, and with simply access to sites like ComeOn! Sportsbook, they’ll be able to wager on games they’ve every chance of winning. Roll on WJC 2017, eh?