By: Kerry Jackson – JuniorHockey.ca
It took a 3-2 shootout win over Belarus in the 2018 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship relegation round, but it was enough to return Denmark to the elite division for 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship. The Danes scored only 10 goals in six games in the 2018 tournament, so they’ll have to find some offense if they are to compete in the next one. Relying only on 1998-born Joachim Blichfeld (three goals, three assists, and 1999-born Jonas Rondbjerg (two goals, five assists) won’t be enough.
Increased offensive production should be expected from forwards Andreas Grundtvig (born 1999, one goal and one assist at the 2018 World Championship), Nikolaj Krag Christensen (1999, one goal, one assist), and Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup (1998, one goal, one assist, and the shootout winner against Belarus), if they are part of the 2019 team.
It’s the same for defensemen Jakob Jessen (1998, no goals, one assist), Jeppe Mogensen (1999, no goals, one assist), and 6”6” giant Malte Setkov (1999, no goals, two assists). Setkov had a strong showing last season for the Malmo Redhawks, scoring one goal and five assists in 14 games in Sweden’s top junior league, the SuperElit. All three will need to contribute offensively at the world championship.
In overall international junior play during the 2017-18 season, Rondbjerg led all Danish scorers with three goals and five assists in eight games. Blichfeld was second with four goals and three assists in nine games while Christensen and Grundtvig each scored three goals and earned one assist. Christensen put up his numbers in 10 games, Grundtvig in 13.
Another Dane to keep an eye on is center Phillip Schultz. The 2000-born center scored a pair in international play this past season, one of them in the World Junior Championship while playing as a 17-year-old. He is a skilled player who, at 6’0” and nearly 200 pounds, also brings a physical element to the game.
Kasper L. Krog (1998) led all Danish goalies in international junior play with a 3.96 goals-against average and an .899 save percentage in seven games. William Roerth (1999) played in one game and recorded a 1.85 GAA.
Whoever is on the Danish roster when the 2019 World Junior Championship begins this winter will have to be ready for a fast start. Denmark opens play on Dec. 26 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver against Canada, the defending champions.