The UBC Thunderbirds men’s hockey team is excited to welcome Denmark’s U-20 team to the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre for an exhibition contest on Tuesday, December 18.
It’s a rare opportunity for the T-Birds to face a national program as the Danes prepare to compete at the upcoming 2019 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship held in Vancouver and Victoria starting December 26.
It will be an historic game for the Thunderbirds and a meeting that’s already generating plenty of excitement for players and staff alike.
“It’s going to be cool, it’ll make for a great story and great experience,” said UBC head coach Sven Butenschon. “It’s a long time for us to be off from a game setting so I’m super pumped we can get a game in there and stay sharp. Exams will be almost over, it’s Christmas, it’s that time of year where everyone tends to be in a bit better mood so add in the chance to play Denmark who’s going to the World Juniors, it’s going to be awesome.”
With five wins in their last six games heading into the holiday break, the T-Birds enter 2019 with a 10-6 record, good for fourth place in the conference.
The Danish national team opens up round-robin play at the 2019 World Junior Hockey Championship against the host Canadians on Boxing Day at Rogers Arena. Just two years ago the Danes had their best outcome in tournament history finishing second in their pool and earning a fifth place finish.
Denmark embarks on their fifth straight appearance at the tournament this year and their 40th overall since their initial entry in 1979.
“We are very much looking forward to staying on campus at UBC and honoured to have this opportunity,” said Danish General Manager Claus Fonnesbech Christensen. “We will have three goaltenders and 23 skaters with us as we prepare for play on the smaller ice surface as well as adjust to the nine hour time difference.”
The Danish roster includes Detroit Red Wings draft pick Malte Setkov (2017 fourth round) who will participate in his second tournament. Team captain and Las Vegas Golden Knights draft pick (2017 third round) is preparing for his fourth tournament after first competing as a 16 year old in 2016.
Team Denmark’s staff will be of interest to Vancouver hockey fans as head coach Olaf Eller is the father of Washington Capitals forward Lars Eller, while assistant coach Dan Jensen is the father of former Vancouver Canuck first round draft pick Nicklas Jensen. Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen’s father Ernst is also on the Danish coaching staff.
The exhibition game against the Thunderbirds will not only be a unique competition for both sides, but also a welcome break for students in the midst of final exam season on the Point Grey campus. Admission will be free for this rare matchup which promises to be an excellent addition to the holiday season calendar!
Puck drop for UBC vs Denmark will be 6:00 p.m. Tuesday, December 18 at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre.