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Denmark hopes to avoid basement at world juniors

The Canadian Press

12/29/2011 11:24:13 PM

EDMONTON -- With one game to go in the preliminary round, Denmark is determined to stay out of the basement and punch its ticket to next year's world junior hockey championships.

The Red and White were handed their third consecutive lopsided loss in the tournament Thursday, beaten 10-2 by Canada at Rexall Place.

"Going into the tournament our main goal was to stay up in the 'A' group and not move down," said forward Nicklas Jensen, the Danes' player of the game against Canada.

"You want to be where the best players are, and you want to play the best. You're never satisfied with losing."

The Danes are in the basement of Pool B and will finish the preliminary round against Finland on Friday.

The bottom two teams in each of the two pools will then play a round-robin relegation round. The teams that finish first, second and third at the end of that round qualify for the 2013 world juniors at Ufa, Russia.

The fourth-place team will be relegated to a lower tier while Germany will move up to claim the final spot in Russia.

Jensen, the first-round-pick of the Vancouver Canucks in this year's NHL entry draft, said the Finland match will be a statement game.

"We just have to win and that's our main focus," said the six-foot-three, 203-pound forward.

"It is critical. We need to prove we can be up here.

"I think we have a really good team and a good hockey society. It's getting bigger in Denmark and we need to prove that, too."

Jensen is the one bona fide big name on Denmark's roster, going 29th overall in the NHL draft.

He has collected 93 points in 91 games since coming to Canada to play with the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League. This season he has 17 goals and 35 points in 30 games.

It has been a tough week for his team.

They were beaten 11-3 by the United States to open the tournament. Jensen assisted on all three goals, two by Mathias Bau-Hansen and one by Thomas Spelling. They were then shut out 7-0 by the Czech Republic before the drubbing Thursday by Canada.

The defence has been as porous as the offence has been anaemic. Through three games, they have had 109 shots on net while putting just 62 on opposing goaltenders.

By the end of the second period Thursday, the Canadians were playing pond hockey, cycling the puck around the Danish end, firing at will as their opponents, sticks flailing, scrambled back and forth to keep up.

Canadian goalie Mark Visentin was rarely tested until the Danes fought hard in the third, allowing Nicolai Meyer and Emil Kristensen to get their first goals of the tournament.

"I think we definitely came on in the third, fought a lot, and competed, but we gave up too many easy goals early and that gave them a good start," said forward Mads Eller.

"That's something we have to work on in the next games. We can't give them easy goals."