Produced by the Western Hockey League in partnership with BC Tree Fruits, “Growing the Game’s Best Talent” is a multi-part series highlighting the next generation of WHL stars set to embark on a journey pursuing NHL dreams. “Growing the Game’s Best Talent” can be seen monthly at WHL.ca, featuring a key member of the upcoming 2019 NHL Draft Class. Together, the WHL and BC Tree Fruits are “Growing the Game’s Best Talent.”
If there’s one thing Danes are known for, it’s their punctuality. Other time-related factors analogous with punctuality include routine and for Danish goaltender Mads Søgaard, he likes nothing more.
Although there’s an eight-hour time difference between Medicine Hat, Alta. and Aalborg, Demark, not much has changed for Søgaard and his routine.
He credits his preconceived off-ice habits for his successful rookie season in the WHL and second-overall draft position on the NHL Central Scouting final rankings among North American goaltenders.
“Drinking water, sleeping and eating,” listed Søgaard on how he maintained his achievements this season. “It’s simple, but I know that I do my best when I keep up with my off-ice habits.”
These and other factors made his transition from Denmark to Canada ‘super easy,’ said Søgaard.
“I was lucky to come to a first-class organization like Medicine Hat and everyone has been super good to me, welcoming me with open arms.”
His stats throughout the season also back up the confidence in his transition. Sporting a 19-8-2-2 record, 2.64 goals-against average, .921 save percentage and three shutouts, Søgaard played a major role in the Tigers’ success this season.
His achievements throughout the 2018-19 WHL Regular Season also included two WHL Eli Wilson Goaltending Goaltender of the Week awards and two Vaughn Canadian Hockey League Goaltender of the Week accomplishments.
However, the 6-foot-7, 190-pound netminder doesn’t just attribute his success to his habits. A few special people in Medicine Hat have also made him feel more comfortable.
“They’ve been amazing,” beamed Søgaard when speaking about his homestay parents in Medicine Hat. “My billet mom is from Denmark, so she makes Danish food for me and we speak Danish which makes me feel really at home. It’s made everything so much easier. My billet dad also played professional hockey in Denmark, so he understands what it’s like to move across the world for the game that you love.”
In the next few days following the game he loves will be the reason Søgaard also hears his name being called at the 2019 NHL Draft.
“I have family in Toronto, so getting drafted by them would be really cool, but if I get drafted by any team it will be an honour,” Søgaard said.
Although he’s had some down time since the Tigers’ season was cut short in the first round of 2019 WHL Playoffs, you can guess that Søgaard still hasn’t changed his routine very much. He’s been back in the gym and on the ice preparing for the season ahead with a continuous focus on his off-ice habits because he knows the responsibility on his shoulders.
“Growing up in Denmark, hockey is not the biggest sport – there are only around five thousand hockey players there,” said Søgaard.
“I’m really proud to be one of the players in the CHL and potentially the NHL to represent my country. It’s definitely a big honour.”