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2021 Worlds: Team Denmark preview

The Danes look to make their mark in the top division of the Women’s World Championship

Women’s Euro Hockey Tour, Six Nations tournament: Russia vs Denmark Photo by Dmitry Feoktistov\TASS via Getty Images

For the first time since 1992, we’ll get to see Denmark compete at the top division of the IIHF Women’s World Championship. Team Denmark is one of two teams who earned a promotion to the top level back in 2019.

While the tournament’s gold-medal favorites all compete in Group A by design, there’s always plenty of intrigue in Group B as well, and it’s no different for the Danes. Now that they’ve been promoted, they’ll be looking to maintain their spot at the top level and compete in a quarterfinal.

2019 Worlds

Back in 2019, Denmark competed in Division IA of the Women’s World Championship. The tournament format at the lower levels is a bit different, constructed entirely of round-robin play—there are no elimination games to advance. Each of the six teams plays each other once and medals are awarded based on the final standings.

The Danes finished second in 2019, with three wins and two losses. They tied Norway with nine points in the standings; both teams had the same goal differential as well (+2). It all came down to the very last game of the tournament. Each team had won their games against Austria, Slovakia, and Italy but lost to eventual champion Hungary. When they faced off on the final day, they were playing for second place and a berth in the top division.

Denmark came away with a convincing 4-0 win to finish second and climb up a level. Josefine Jakobsen scored their first two goals and Nicoline Jensen and Josefine Persson each finished with two points. Goaltender Cassandra Repstock-Romme had 27 saves in the shutout.

Roster

Forwards: Silke Lave Glud, Lilli Pearl Friis-Hansen, Mia Bau Hansen, Michelle Weis Hansen, Josefine Jakobsen, Nicoline Søndergaard Jensen, Michele Brix Nielsen, Julie Oksbjerg, Julie Marie Funch Østergaard, Josefine Høegh Persson, Maria Holm Peters, Emma Elizabeth Russell, Sofia Blüthgen Skriver, Mille Kunnerup Sørensen
Defenders: Amalie Andersen, Josephine Asperup, Sofie Skott Dahl, Malene Clarin Frandsen, Kristine Melberg Hansen, Linn Ploug, Amanda Normann Refsgaard, Simone Jacquet Thrysøe
Goalies: Lisa Sellberg Jensen, Emma-Sofie Nordström, Cassandra Repstock-Romme
Head Coach: Peter Elander

Story to Watch

Obviously, the major storyline here is that Denmark is competing at the top level for the first time in 29 years. Back in 2017, the IIHF decided to expand the field to 10 teams at the Women’s World Championship, a great sign of women’s hockey’s growth globally. The Danes advancing and becoming one of those 10 teams, along with Hungary, is another great sign and a fun story. Now, their task will be showing they can compete at this level and advance further throughout the tournament. If they can finish as one of the top three teams in Group B, they’ll earn a berth in the quarterfinals.

Since their last World Championship, Team Denmark actually has a new face behind the bench. Fredrik Glader, who coached the team in 2019, moved on afterward to coach on the men’s side of the game. Peter Elander, who coached Sweden to an Olympic silver medal in 2006, took over for Team Denmark in 2019-20. Assistant coach Tim Bothwell also has Olympic experience—he was part of Canada’s staff in 2006, helping the team to gold.

If you are a person who has good taste in TV shows watches Ted Lasso, you’ll also appreciate knowing that there are some key similarities between this Danish team and everyone’s favorite fake football club, AFC Richmond. Elander is a huge fan of the show and, when I spoke to him last week, was quick to highlight those parallels and his hopes for the team:

“I hope that we have a team with players who show Jamie Tartt’s talent. We have a player, Silke Glud, who has the kindness of Sam Obisanya. And then our team captain [Josefine Jakobsen] has the winning attitude of Roy Kent. This is going to go well.”

Key Player | Josefine Jakobsen

Women’s Euro Hockey Tour, Six Nations tournament: Russia vs Denmark Photo by Dmitry Feoktistov\TASS via Getty Images

Denmark’s captain has amassed a ton of success during her career. She’s been a member of the Danish national team since 2008 when she was just a teenager. Since then, she’s helped propel the entire program to reach unprecedented heights. When Jakobsen first joined the team they were competing at the Division II Women’s World Championship. By 2012, Jakobsen and the Danes had earned a berth at the Division IB World Championship, and they finished high enough to jump up to Division IA in 2013.

Jakobsen had a great NCAA career at the University of North Dakota where she flourished as a dominant two-way center; she finished her college career nearly a point-per-game player. Since then, she’s been an integral player for Djurgårdens IF in the SDHL. One of her best performances came in the 2017 playoffs, where she finished first in playoff scoring and helped her club capture the SDHL championship.

Last season for Djurgårdens, she notched 15 goals and 36 points in 34 games. Jakobsen is clearly a leader in all respects for Denmark and will be relied on in all situations, particularly when it comes to generating offense and keeping play out of the Danish zone.

Two other veteran players to keep an eye on: Nicoline Søndergaard Jensen and Malene Clarin Frandsen. Jensen has put up very respectable numbers in the SDHL and will also be relied upon to contribute offensively here. Frandsen was named Denmark’s best player at the 2019 Division IA World Championship and should log a ton of minutes on defense.

Key Youngster(s) | Mille Kunnerup Sørensen

Sørensen is a 2001-born forward who had a really strong season with Hvidovre in the Danish league, scoring 18 goals and 39 points in 16 games. This coming year, she’ll have a spot with Malmö in the SDHL’s Division I.

Sofia Blüthgen Skriver is another name to watch. She’s an 18-year-old forward who played 21 games with Luleå in the SDHL’s top division in 2019-20. When I spoke to Elander, he mentioned both players have strong potential who are already making an impact with the national team; he expects them to see time in special-teams situations.

Emma-Sofie Nordström should also warrant some attention. She’s an 18-year-old goaltender who played nine games with Linköping in the SDHL last season. She’s committed to St. Lawrence.