When Denmark fell to Russia in the quarterfinals of the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship, it ended off an impressive tournament for the underdog nation.
It also capped a strong showing for Jonas Rondbierg, one of Denmark’s top NHL Draft prospects.
Denmark fell 4-0 to Russia in the quarterfinal after winning two of four round robin games to finish second in Group A, upsetting Finland and the Czech Republic along the way.
Rondbjerg is proud.
“It’s a big experience going into a quarterfinal against Russia,” said the 6-0, 175-pound winger. “We’re quite disappointed now and we could have maybe done better.
“It was a pretty good tournament for me I think.”
Rondbjerg, already in his second World Juniors, had two assists and eight shots on goal in four games.
It was a strong showing for the 2017 NHL Draft eligible right wing.
But that’s nothing new.
In Sweden, where he plays in SuperElit with the Vaxjo Lakers, Rondbjerg has 21 points (six goals, 15 assists) in 25 games, good for second on his team in scoring and fifth among all under-18 players in the league. He also made his Swedish Hockey League (SHL) debut on Oct. 6 when he played 4:30 against Frolunda HC.
As a 16-year-old, he played 35 games professionally in Denmark and registered 14 points with Rungsted Seier Capital in 2015-16. The year before, he scored a record 35 points in six games in Denmark’s top under-17 league.
In Monday’s quarterfinal, Rondbjerg played on Denmark’s second line and top power play unit, and on a team with multiple NHL prospects, finished second on Denmark in time on ice at 21:25. He also registered a shot on goal.
The display has him confident he will be a draft pick in June.
“My smartness on the ice, being able to read plays, good positioning, smart in the D zone, all of those things will help me get drafted,” he said.
Those are the benefits.
Not the focus.
During the tournament, Rondbjerg put his focus on the team, rather than his draft stock.
“I tried not to focus on the draft,” he said. “I just went out and played my best and do my best every shift and not focus on the draft.”
Playing in Montreal and Toronto wasn’t without its challenges for the 17-year-old.
“It’s the smaller ice so it’s more intense and you have more time in the Swedish league,”Rondbjerg said. “It’s a bit quicker.”
It didn’t prevent the strong showing from he and his teammates.
The experience is something he’ll never forget.
And one, he hopes, to build on at the 2018 World Juniors.
As an NHL draft pick.
“It was exciting,” he said.
“We had a really good group of guys who can really play hockey and we played some good games and were able to stick together to fight through for some huge wins.”