After winning the 2011 World Junior Championship Division I tournament last year, Denmark is ready for big time.
The Denmark Ice Hockey Association released its 23-man roster that will arrive in Airdrie, Alta., on Dec. 17 to commence its pre-tournament schedule. The country's initial preliminary-round matchup with the U.S. National Junior Team is slated for Dec. 26 at Rexall Place in Edmonton.
The 2012 WJC will be held Dec. 26 to Jan. 5, 2012 in Edmonton and Calgary.
Denmark, coached by Todd Bjorkstrand
, will compete in Group B with the U.S., Canada, the Czech Republic and Finland. Group A will consist of Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, Slovakia and Latvia. It's Denmark's first time at the top level of international under-20 hockey since a 10th-place finish at the 2008 WJC.
DENMARK WJC SCHEDULE
Denmark will be in Group B at the 2012 World Junior Championship and play its preliminary-round games at Rexall Place in Edmonton. The medal round will be played at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.
Dec. 26 - Denmark vs. U.S.
Dec. 27 - Denmark vs. Czech Republic
Dec. 29 - Denmark vs. Canada
Dec. 30 - Denmark vs. Finland
Jan. 2 - Quarterfinals
Jan. 3 - Semifinals
Jan. 5 - Gold medal/Bronze medal games
Denmark's team enters the tournament averaging 18.17 years of age. The top player listed on the roster is Nicklas Jensen
, who was taken with the 29th pick of the 2011 Entry Draft by the Vancouver Canucks
. In 27 games with the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League this season, Jensen has 15 goals and 32 points.
The top prospect eligible for the 2012 NHL Draft is right wing Thomas Spelling
, who plays for Herning in the country's top professional league. The 6-foot-2, 174-pound Spelling had 14 goals and 24 points in 21 games for his hometown team this season. Spelling is the top-rated Danish skater in NHL Central Scouting's preliminary rankings.
One other familiar name on the Denmark roster is Mads Eller, the younger brother of Montreal Canadiens
forward Lars Eller
. The 5-foot-11, 161-pound forward had 12 points in 14 games for Swedish club Frolunda's under-18 team, and earned a promotion to the club's under-20 squad. The 16-year-old forward isn't NHL Draft eligible until 2013.
TEAM DENMARK 2012 WJC CAMP ROSTER
-- Sebastian Feuk, Herlev Eagles, SWE (2012 draft eligible); Dennis Jensen, Esbjerg (2012 draft eligible); Christian Larsen, Malmo Redhawks, SWE (2012 draft eligible).
-- Jannik Christensen, Esbjerg (2012 draft eligible); Tobias Hansen, Rodovre Mighty Bulls (2012 draft eligible); Emil Kristensen, Esbjerg (2012 draft eligible); Patrick Madsen, Herning Blue Fox (2012 draft eligible); Martin Rahbek, Herlev Eagles (2012 draft eligible); Anders Thode, Frederikshavn Whitehawks (2012 draft eligible); Mark Larsen, Frederikshavn Whitehawks (2012 draft eligible).
-- Mathias Bau Hansen, Rodovre Mighty Bulls (2012 draft eligible); Rasmus Bjerrum, Esbjerg (2012 draft eligible); Patrick Bjorkstrand
, Herning Blue Fox (2012 draft eligible); Oliver Bjorkstrand, Herning Blue Fox (2012 draft eligible); Mads Eller, Frolunda Indians, SWE (2013 draft eligible); Nicklas Jensen
, Oshawa Generals, OHL (Vancouver); Nicki Kisum, Copenhagen Hockey (2012 draft eligible); Joachim Linnet, Herning Blue Fox (2012 draft eligible); Nicolai Meyer, Malmo Redhawks, SWE (2012 draft eligible); Jonas Sass
, Herlev Eagles (2012 draft eligible); Anders Schultz, Cedar Rapids Roughriders, USHL (2012 draft eligible); Thomas Spelling
, Herning Blue Fox (2012 draft eligible); Thomas Sondergaard, Frederikshavn Whitehawks (2012 draft eligible).
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale