Freddy comes home
By Andrew Podnieks|14 MAY 2018
Frans Nielsen and Frederik Andersen are all smile after the win against Norway.
Photo: Matt Zambonin / HHOF-IIHF Images
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Just a few months before Danish goalie Frederik Andersen was born, in Herning, in 1989, the national team finished eighth and dead last in the B-Pool of the World Championship and was demoted to the C-Pool for 1990.
 
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.
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14 MAY 2018
Fans are right to count on him. Andersen played in three World Championships early in his career (2010, 2011, 2012) and then went to the NHL where he established himself as a top goalie with Anaheim. After three years with the Ducks, he signed a lucrative five-year contract with the Maple Leafs, and he is now in Leafs Nation on a team with an upward Stanley Cup trend.
 
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.
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"Here is where I started to play when I was a kid. I have a lot of friends and family in the stands that I can share the moment with. It’s pretty awesome."
Frederik Andersen
Danish national goalie, Herning hometown hero
And then there is that next level of special, that Danish players are trying their hardest to achieve. Qualifying for the quarter-finals. A game in Copenhagen. A further sign of development for the national program. Andersen won’t think quite like that.
 
“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.
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