When Denmark takes to the ice on Sunday April 8 at the 2018 IIHF Division 1 Group A Women’s World Championship, they will be looking to improve upon their performances at the last few Worlds, in which they consistently finished in the middle of the pack.
Since Denmark won the Division I Group B Women’s World Championship in 2012 to earn promotion to Group A, they have finished no higher than second in their group. Over the last three years they have finished fourth.
“Our group in the World Championships has been tight the last couple seasons, there’s a chance you can end in the top, but at the same time you have to perform your best if you don’t want to end up at the bottom,” said Danish player Josefine Jakobsen. “Our goal is always to perform our best as a team, we always want to go for the gold. I think we for sure should aim for [a top three finish], go home with a medal.”
Jakobsen is one of several players on the team who is currently playing in the Swedish Women’s Hockey League (SDHL). While she currently is in her second full season with Djurgårdens IF alongside high profile players such as Halli Krzyzaniak and Molly Engstrom, 26 year old Jakobsen also previously spent four seasons in the NCAA with the University of North Dakota.
“We are a small nation with few players,” said player Nicoline Jensen of Denmark’s 504 registered female hockey players. “Therefore we are a close unit and a lot of our players play with each other on a daily basis.” Jensen currently plays with the SDHL’s Linköping HC. She also spent time in the NCAA with University of New Hampshire.
“We have about seven players who play in the Swedish league,” continued Jensen. “This is providing our national team with players with more game experience and a better hockey environment in which our players are taught from the best. But also, the Danish league continues to evolve. The girls that play in Denmark are constantly getting better due to them playing international tournaments and being allowed to take part in men’s games and practices.”
Led by coach Hasse H. Christiansen, Denmark will open the tournament against France, who is hosting the tournament in Vaujany. Denmark also opened the 2017 World Championships against France, who they shutout 1-0. Both teams have a lot to prove; France will also be looking to improve this tournament, as they went winless in 2017.
Denmark had two wins and three losses in the 2017 tournament. Besides beating France, they also beat Norway 3-1, but were shutout by Japan and Hungary and ended up losing 6-1 to Austria.
For Denmark to have the success they are looking for, they will need to score more. At the 2017 World Championships, Denmark had just five goals, 12 less than the team that finished above them in third place. Their leading scorer, Michele Brix, had just two goals (Jensen tied her in points with two assists). In comparison, Austria, who finished second, had three of the tournament’s top four goal scorers, with Denise Altmann leading the way with seven goals and five assists.
The Danish team will likely turn to their players who have had success scoring elsewhere, such as Jakobsen, who had 59 goals and 78 assists in 147 games with the University of North Dakota, and Josefine Persson, who is currently playing with Luleå HF in the SDHL, but in 189 games in Denmark’s women’s league had 416 goals and 214 assists.
Besides France, Denmark will once again face Norway, Austria, and Hungary. New to the group for the 2018 tournament is Slovakia, who return to Division I Group A after a one year stint in Group B.
“I am looking forward to playing some good games against interesting teams,” said Jensen. “The teams in our group are close in level. Anything can happen.”
More information on the 2018 IIHF Division I Group A Women’s World Championship can be found here: http://www.iihf.com/competition/657/