By Ryan McCracken on December 7, 2018.
Mads Søgaard has answered the call from his country Wednesday morning.
The 17-year-old Medicine Hat Tigers goaltender earned an invitation to Denmark’s IIHF World Junior Championship selection camp after a stellar start to his Western Hockey League career and says the news has only inspired him to up his game even further with one of hockey’s biggest stages officially on his horizon.
“It’s something I’ve been training and working hard over the summer for, and at the start of the season here — both on and off the ice,” said Søgaard, who will join up with Team Denmark on Dec. 16. “With the way I’ve played, and now getting invited, it’s nice to see those things pay off. It just makes me want to work even harder and accomplish even more.”
Søgaard joined up with the Tigers over the summer as the 32nd overall selection in the Canadian Hockey League’s import draft. In the time since, the 6-foot-7, 190-pound Aalborg product has established himself as one of the WHL’s top goaltending prospects with a .925 save percentage— good enough for third in the league — a 2.54 goals against average and a 7-4-1-2 record.
While his Danes are expected to be an underdog again at this year’s tournament in Vancouver and Victoria, Søgaard says the Scandinavian nation always manages to make some noise on junior hockey’s biggest stage and can’t wait for the chance to be in on an upset.
“Denmark always seems to pull off some amazing results or something like a close game against a top nation or maybe even a win. It’s not more than two years ago that Denmark won against Finland in the group game, which was not expected at all,” said Søgaard. “We know we’re the underdog every year we go into the tournament but somehow we’ve managed to stay in the top division for four years now, so I think it’s definitely possible to do again.”
It’s sure to be an uphill climb, but Søgaard points out it’s one the whole team is excited to take on together. While Canada boasts raw talent like WHL leading scorer Brett Leason and top goaltender Ian Scott, Denmark comes to the table with no shortage of pre-packaged chemistry. Hailing from one of the tournament’s smallest nations, Søgaard says he’s already been on the ice with every member of Denmark’s selection camp roster on numerous occasions.
“Denmark is a small country, so when you go on a national team you kind of know everyone. It’s something special,” he said. “I don’t think there’s a guy on the team that I haven’t played a national team game with, so it’s not like going and meeting new people, it’s more practicing to get together on the ice than off the ice. I know we’re going to be a close group off the ice so it’s just going to be about creating some chemistry on the ice.”
Denmark’s tallest task will also be its first, as Søgaard could potentially be staring down Team Canada when the tournament kicks off on Boxing Day.
“It’s a pretty tough start,” said Søgaard. “But I think Denmark, we play with a lot of heart and a lot of passion… I think playing with a lot of heart and passion, and going in and doing the right things, I think we can still be successful even though we’re the underdogs.”
You must be logged in to post a comment.