While most members of the Surrey Eagles – coaches and players alike – spent the BC Hockey League’s Christmas break relaxing with friends and family, one player was busy playing for his country.
Defenceman Ludvig Adamsen has spent the holidays playing for Denmark at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships, which began Boxing Day in Helsinki, Finland and wrapped up with the gold-medal game Tuesday.
The 19-year-old Eagle was a staple on the Danish blue-line, and was the only player from a junior ‘A’ team in the entire tournament.
Denmark finished the round-robin portion of the U20 junior showcase with a won-loss record of 1-3 and nearly pulled off an upset over Russia in the first playoff round – the Danes led 3-2 until the Russians tied the game in the final minute, and then scored again in overtime to win.
Denmark did pull off an upset early in the tournament, however, with an opening-game victory over Switzerland. It was the second year in a row that the Danes had upset their higher-ranked Swiss opponents.
Adamsen, a defensive-minded “stay-at-home” blue-liner did not record any points in the tournament, and finished with two penalty minutes and a -2 plus/minus.
Last month, prior to the tournament, Adamsen said he was “pretty pumped” to be taking part in the prestigious event, saying in a story on the Eagles’ website that “it’s always an honour to represent your country.”
In a news story posted on Danish hockey website, Faceoff Online – translated to English – Denmark head coach Olaf Eller called Adamsen “a fighting dog” who was one of the team’s better players in Denmark’s 6-1 loss to Canada on Dec. 28.
In the same story, Adamsen said he was “extremely proud to participate at the (world juniors).”
And though they lost to Canada after pulling off the victory over the Swiss, Adamsen added he was still happy with his team’s performance.
“We actually had a good setup, kept (Canada) on the outside and communicated well,” he told Faceoff Online. “You can never be happy when you lose, but Canada, overall, just has (an extra gear).”
It’s expected that Adamsen will rejoin the Surrey Eagles – who played three games last weekend on an Interior Division road trip – this week.
While players with BC Hockey League ties have played in the World Junior Hockey Championships before – for example, New Westminster’s Kyle Turris and South Surrey’s Colton Gillies both played for Canada in 2008 – the players in question have, by that time, left the BCHL. Turris, a former Burnaby Express star, was at the University of Wisconsin by the time he suited up at the international tournament, while Gillies, who briefly played as an affiliate with the Surrey Eagles, was in the WHL with the Saskatoon Blades. Adamsen is the rare exception, suiting up internationally while still with his junior ‘A’ team.
Adamsen is one of just four players on the Danish national team to play full-time in North America. Two others – goaltender Lasse Petersen and forward Niklas Anderson – play for the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League, while another, Alexander True, plays for the Seattle Thunderbirds, also of the WHL.
The six-foot-three defenceman came to the Eagles this season after two years spent playing junior ‘B’ on Vancouver Island. It’s been an up-and-down season for the Danish import – he’s suited up for just 14 games in Surrey due mainly to injury.
As well, he’s had to adjust to the Eagles’ ever-evolving roster this season, as the team struggles to find the right mix of players.
“When I came back from injury, I was told our defence core had changed and I had three games to prove myself… luckily, I played the next 11 games,” Adamsen said in the same interview.
He also said his decision to play in Canada “has been the right decision” and credited Eagles’ assistant coach Gary Nylund – a longtime National Hockey League defenceman – for much of his development.
“I have developed a great competitive spirit and learned to play under constant pressure,” he said.
The Eagles are back on home ice Friday when they host the Prince George Spruce Kings, and on Sunday afternoon will host the Trail Smoke Eaters.