It stayed in the C-Pool for two years and worked its way back up to B-Pool where it would remain another eleven years. Denmark didn’t make it into the top pool until 2003 after an absence of 54 years.
It was still five years before the young Andersen would play his first pro game, with the Herning Blue Fox of the Danish league in 2008/09, but who could have known then that he would develop into a world-class goalie, that his national team would earn the respect of the top nations such that Denmark was awarded hosting honours for the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, or that he would be the go-to goalie upon whose shoulders the hopes of the nation rested.
But being home for the Worlds is extra special for the man Leafs fans call “Freddy.”
“It’s a different feeling, a different atmosphere,” he explained of the fan support. “European crowds are a little bit livelier throughout the game. The ACC is pretty loud when we score a goal or play well. It’s a different fan culture. When they get the drums going here, it’s pretty fun.”
But it’s not just that he’s in Denmark for the Worlds; he’s in Herning, which is doubly cool.
“It’s special here for me. This is where I grew up. I feel at home in Toronto as well. They’ve done a great job, so it’s not like I feel like a foreigner there. I feel like it’s a fun place to play,” he enthused.
“We have to live one day at a time. It’s a cliché, but that’s the way it is,” he said. “We have to focus on the next day and worry about the next three points because every win or loss can make a huge difference in the standings. We want to keep the pace. Every win is a big win.”
Andersen is in a good place these days. He is the backbone of an ever-improving Danish team and a Leafs team heading towards Cup contention. But if he ever gets too far ahead of himself, he can always look back to where he started – Herning.