MEDICINE HAT, AB — With training camp less than two weeks away, the Medicine Hat Tigers first round import pick has officially arrived in the Gas City.
17-year-old Danish netminder Mats Sogaard, selected by the Tigers 32nd overall in this year's CHL Import Draft, arrived in Medicine Hat on Wednesday.
The 6'6", 185 lbs Sogaard says he hasn’t had much time to explore the area yet but is excited to try and crack the roster.
“I feel really fortunate that they drafted me,” said Sogaard. “I feel like I can come here and do my very best. Make a difference.”
Sogaard will have lots of competition as he is one of several goaltenders competing for a spot to back-up starter Jordan Hollett, who's expected to take on a much heavier workload this season.
16-year-old Garin Bjorklund, the Tabbies first round selection from the 2017 Bantam Draft, and 16-year old Kaeden Lane are also competing for the second in charge.
Sogaard participated in J-F Martel’s World Pro Goaltending Camp at the Family Leisure Centre this week, hitting the ice Thursday and Friday. Martel is also the Tigers goaltending consultant, and says he sees a lot of upside with his new young goalie.
“He’s a big, lengthy, goalie, flexible, fluid, seems to have a good head for the game already,” said Martel. “There’s a lot to work with there. I think he’s going to make a good transition to our league and to our program. So we’re super excited about that.”
Martel adds Sogaard's experience at the international level is also a huge benefit.
“He’s been in the national program in Denmark," Martel added. "So he’s been around great players, he’s been around great coaches, he knows what it takes. (It) should be a smooth transition.”
Sogaard's international resume includes dressing for the Danish national team at the World Juniors, along with lacing up with World U16 and U18 Championship participation.
Last year, Sogaard played in Minnesota for the Austin Bruins in the North American Hockey League. He appeared in 22 games for the Bruins finishing with n 11-6 record, a 2.64 goals against average and a .909 save percentage.
He says the move to North America was a no brainer and it will allow for him to showcase his abilities to a larger audience.
“I felt like that was a big move for me and (there’s) a couple more eyes on me here than in Denmark,” said Sogaard. “I felt that (it) was a good opportunity and I just want to make the most of it.”
Born in the year 2000, Sogaard spent his first 15 years playing on a larger ice surface in Denmark but says his last year in Minnesota helped him adjust.
“I think I’m used to the smaller ice surface and it probably will be a bit of a transition to get used to the speed here. Once I’m into that, I’ll be just fine,” he added.
The Tigers currently have the rights to Sogaard, Russian winger Vasily Podkolzin, and Swedish defenseman Linus Nassen.
Nassen, who will compete for a professional contract through the Florida Panthers organization next month, is also one of six pending overage players on the Tabbies roster.
As per CHL rules, only two will make the Tigers roster for the upcoming 2018-19 season.
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