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Denmark proud for opportunity to play Canada

by Mike G. Morreale / NHL.com

TORONTO -- Denmark coach Olaf Eller isn't expecting any miracles when his group plays against heavily favored Canada in the quarterfinal round of the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship at Air Canada Centre on Friday (8 p.m. ET; NHLN-US).

WORLD JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIP

The 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship is being held at Bell Centre in Montreal and Air Canada Centre in Toronto until Jan. 5. For a complete broadcast schedule of all games on NHL Network-US, CLICK HERE.

He knows it will be an uphill battle from the opening faceoff, but he is confident about one thing. His team will compete as best they can.

"It is unbelievable experience and unbelievable proudness to be here," Eller said. "We survived and reached game five and are satisfied with that, but as this group has been going forward in the Danish system they put up new goals and when you are in the playoffs it's all about winning."

The Danes qualified for the playoff round by virtue of a memorable 4-3 shootout victory against Switzerland on Dec. 30 in a preliminary-round match in Group B. In that game, the fans at Air Canada Centre were in the corner of Denmark, cheering every time something good would happen.

Denmark won at the top level of the Under-20 for the first time in their history with the victory against Switzerland after 15 straight defeats, including three to open this year's tournament.

"Playing against Canada is the biggest challenge and biggest experience for everybody in the Danish ice hockey association," Eller said. "We played with seniors in the quarterfinal with Sweden four years ago and Germany, but to face the home team and heavy medal favorite and to have the chance to challenge them and be a part of this will be unforgettable."

Canada coach Benoit Groulx isn't taking anything for granted. He expects Denmark to be on top of their game. Denmark is ranked third in the tournament in power-play efficiency (37 percent; 6-of-16) and is fifth on the penalty kill (84 percent; 16-of-19). Canada ranks first on the power play (50 percent; 6-of-12) and second on the penalty kill (92 percent; 13-of-14).

"Denmark has a big physical team; one of the biggest teams in this tournament," Groulx said. "Their specialty teams are doing well, so it's a team that deserves to be here. They battle hard and we expect a good hard battle. They play as a unit of five on the ice. It's a great team effort and they have momentum and we have to be ready for them."

Eller has been grateful for all the support from the Toronto-area fans during their stay and at the games.

"I can't describe it; it's a fantastic, amazing feeling coming here [to ACC]," Eller said. "Getting that feeling that you have all the fans with you, especially in the shootout where you get the real feeling they were happy when we scored but [booing] when Switzerland had the shot; it was incredible."

Here are the projected lineups:

CANADA

Max Domi - Sam Reinhart - Anthony Duclair

Nicholas Ritchie - Connor McDavid - Curtis Lazar

Nicholas Paul - Nicolas Petan - Robby Fabbri

Lawson Crouse - Frederik Gauthier - Jake Virtanen

Brayden Point

Shea Theodore - Darnell Nurse

Madison Bowey - Joshua Morrissey

Joe Hicketts - Dillon Heatherington

Samuel Morin

Zachary Fucale

Eric Comrie

DENMARK

Mikkel Aagaard - Emil Rasmussen - Mathias Asperup

Mads Eller - Nikolaj Ehlers - Oliver Bjorkstrand

Nick Olesen - Marcus Nielsen - Jeppe Holmberg

Andre Pison - Alexander True - Soeren Nielsen

Anders Krogsgaard - Sonny Hertzberg

Mathias Lassen - Mads Larsen

Daniel Nielsen - Victor Eskerod

Daniel Hansen

Georg Sorensen

Thomas Lillie

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