Another magical run by Team Denmark ended in the quarter-finals at this year’s 2017 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship in early January, but what a run it was.
Denmark saw a number of firsts in this tournament – which took place in Montreal and Toronto. They finished second in their pool for the first time with a 1-1-1-1 record (that’s one regulation win, one overtime win, one overtime loss and one regulation loss).
Denmark also picked some other firsts at this tournament – beating Finland (the defending champions) and the Czech Republic. And Lasse Petersen, the former Swan Valley Stampeder and son of current Stamps bench boss Erik Petersen, picked up his first-ever win at the largest stage in junior hockey – backstopping the Danes to a 3-2 overtime victory over the Czech’s with a 32-save performance.
“The round-robin was very successful for us,” said Petersen last Wednesday as he waited for a flight back west. “We did a little better than we expected, and it was always our goal to make the quarter-finals and take it from there.
“So we finished second and got to play Russia, and we thought we had a good chance to make it to the semi-finals as we took them to overtime last year, but the final outcome (a 4-0 loss to Russia) wasn’t what any of us were hoping for. But, we are still proud of how we did.”
One of the highlights for Petersen was being in goal for the 3-2 overtime victory over the Czechs – a game where Denmark had to rally in the third period.
“It was tons of fun – I was really trying to enjoy the moment, as I wasn’t too sure if I’d ever get the chance to play on that big of a stage again,” he said. “I enjoyed it, and we had a pretty good outcome.”
Coming off their best-ever finish at this tournament, Petersen feels Denmark is no longer a team other countries will be able to look past - which is great for the tournament to see another country ice a competitive team.
“We’re a nation to be taken more seriously now,” he said. “Just because we’re a small country with not that many hockey players, it doesn’t mean we’re not a good hockey nation.
“We take a lot of pride in competing hard and playing with a lot of heart – and it’s taken us far.”
Petersen’s family was also in the crowd as this year’s tournament was played in Canada instead of overseas as it was last year.
“I really appreciated them coming to watch me, and see me play and meet with me after games,” noted Petersen. “It was great.”
Erik Petersen was in the stands to watch the tournament, and had plenty to offer from a parent and a coach’s perspective.
“It’s tough to distinguish from being a father and a coach, because when you’re a coach you’re always analyzing the situation, but as a father I am very proud of Lasse,” he said. “They had never beaten the Czech Republic before, so that was something to watch. For me, it was the highlight.
“From a hockey perspective, the Danes said they had a good team, with seven to eight defensemen they felt could play,” he added. “They didn’t have the big top guys they did before, but they had a deeper team than they had before and they were pretty confident they would make the quarter-finals, though I’m not sure anyone saw them earning a No. 5 ranking in the world, and I’m not sure that will ever happen again.
“It was quite an accomplishment – they’re very proud of their country, and they played like that.”
As for Lasse, he’s now back with the Red Deer Rebels, looking to get into a playoff spot and make some noise in the WHL playoffs.