Sø ex­cited for the hol­i­days

Tigers net­min­der in­vited to Den­mark’s camp ahead of World Ju­nior Cham­pi­onship

Medicine Hat News - - SPORTS - RYAN MCCRACKEN rm­c­[email protected]­hat­news.com Twit­ter: MHNMcCracken

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.”

PERRY BERGSON/THE BRAN­DON SUN)

Medicine Hat Tigers goalie Mads Sø­gaard makes a save as Bran­don Wheat Kings for­ward Luka Burzan and Tigers de­fence­man Dy­lan MacPherson bat­tle in front of the net in Bran­don Tues­day.

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