By Ryan McCracken on September 14, 2018.
It was June 28, and Medicine Hat Tigers centre Elijah Brown was sitting down with his agent to discuss a few things about his budding career. That’s when he heard some surprising news.
“I think Med Hat is going to take Mads,” his agent, referring to Danish netminder Mads Søgaard, informed Brown.
Brown and Søgaard spent a few summers together at their shared agency’s hockey camp in Toronto — long before either began their career in the Gas City. When the rumour was confirmed later that day at the Canadian Hockey League import draft, Brown started to get excited.
“I was like, ‘Wait, what?’ That was pretty cool,” said Brown. “We were at a camp in Toronto and then we went the next two years together so I got to know him. We sat beside each other for one camp and he’s an awesome kid. I think we got a steal with him.
“He’s a great goalie and a really nice guy.”
The 17-year-old netminder joined up with Brown’s Tigers as the 32nd overall pick in the draft and immediately confirmed his intentions to join up with the team for the upcoming season.
Entering the WHL as an import can be a daunting experience, but Søgaard says the prospect of his transition from the North American Hockey League’s Austin Bruins to Medicine Hat was made all the more inviting knowing he had a familiar face in the dressing room.
“We’ve been skating together in Toronto for a couple of years, so it was very nice to come here and have a familiar face. He kind of took me in and told me stuff about the team and how stuff works out here. It was very nice,” said Søgaard. “Everyone has been really nice to me. I have a great billet family and everything has been perfect so far. I’m really happy to be here.”
The 17-year-old netminder is coming off a strong season with the Bruins, posting a 2.64 goals against average and a .909 save percentage in 22 games to put himself on Medicine Hat’s radar.
Søgaard is one of three goaltenders battling for a permanent position alongside Jordan Hollett this season — next to 16-year-olds Kaeden Lane and Garin Bjorklund — and the 6-foot-7, 181-pound Dane says he’s been enjoying the healthy competition in the crease.
“I think we’re all just trying to get the best out of it. We compete and we challenge each other,” said Søgaard, who has an .846 save percentage in two pre-season appearances. “We always want to do great when we’re out there, but I think it’s a good friendly competition and it’s been nice so far.”
The Tigers close out their exhibition schedule Saturday in Red Deer against the Rebels at 7:30 p.m. before kicking off the regular season next Friday in Lethbridge against the Hurricanes.
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