Being 6’7” and 201 lbs, Senators' goaltender Mads Sogaard is impossible to miss. And he certainly didn't miss much in Belleville this spring, going a perfect 7 and 0.
Sogaard was born in Aalborg, Denmark on December 13, 2000. He was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2019 NHL draft, 37th overall. Sogaard made his Belleville debut Saturday, May 1st. The B-Sens won 5-3 over the Toronto Marlies with Sogaard stopping 24-of-27 shots.
Prior to being drafted by the Senators, Sogaard played for the Denmark U18 and U20 teams, Esbjerg Energy, and the Medicine Hat Tigers.
Coming to Canada only two weeks before his debut with the Senators affiliate, Sogaard spent one week in quarantine with regular COVID-19 tests, giving him the green light to play on his big day.
“I thought he was excellent," said Belleville head coach Troy Mann. "He’s (big) and he covers a lot of the net. He’s very athletic and his ability to play the puck was certainly a pleasant surprise for me. He was able to make some plays to our defence as well.”
Sogaard also excels in his skating. He understands the importance of developing good feet and being a good skater, something that he continues to practice.
Although Sogaard is highly skilled, he points out that his height poses some challenges. He explained that he works hard on getting down on the ice quickly and closing his five-hole, something most tall goaltenders struggle with.
“The key is being honest with yourself and understanding you can always get better,” said Sogaard in an interview.
Sogaard also reflected on what he learned at the Ottawa Senators development camp where he worked with NHL coaches. He said that his biggest takeaways were consistency and creating a routine, both on and off the ice. For example, eating habits, stretching, doing proper exercises, and getting enough sleep.
In another interview, Sogaard expressed how playing hockey in Denmark was fun but came with its downsides. Scouts do not notice players in Denmark until they are 18 years old or playing in a professional league. Further, Denmark’s minor and junior hockey leagues do not receive a lot of national attention.
Sogaard remembers having his first professional practice at the age of 14, at which point he realized that he wanted to play hockey in North America in the future.
At 15, Sogaard moved to Esbjerg where he experienced living away from home for the first time. He took this opportunity to improve his skills in preparation for moving to North America to play professional hockey.
When Sogaard was 19, he played for the Austin Bruins in Minnesota. However, the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) had a rule which entailed that imported goalies were not allowed into the league. Therefore, he instead planned on attending an NCAA school where he could play hockey and get a degree.
After some changes in the league’s rules, midway through the year, Sogaard learned the news that the CHL was at last accepting imported goalies. At this point, Sogaard had his goal set on joining the WHL, which he achieved when the Medicine Hat Tigers recruited him.
One memorable story that Sogaard will never forget was when he travelled 16 hours by bus overnight for a game, only to arrive 20 minutes before the warm-up. Although it was a close call, Sogaard made it to the game and helped his team win 4-1.
I think it is safe to say that with Sogaards’ skills, determination, and passion for hockey, he has a great shot at joining the big club some day.
By Hannah Sheehan | Sens Nation Hockey
Hannah Sheehan is a Communication and Media studies major at Carleton University