Coming to town: Experience NHL stars on the ice in Aalborg

by Nathalia Hentze Nielsen
Photo: Danmarks Ishockey Union
Photo: Danmarks Ishockey Union

If you love ice hockey, you’re in for a treat in the late summer of 2024.

The world’s ice hockey nations are gearing up for the qualification rounds for the 2026 Winter Olympics in Italy, and it’s happening on home ice in Aalborg.

The Sparekassen Danmark Ice Arena, the country’s largest, will serve as the Danish home ground as the men’s national team attempts to qualify for the 2026 Winter Olympics in Italy from August 29th to September 1st. This was announced by the Danish Ice Hockey Union in a press release.

Aalborg will thus host the red-and-white team along with guests from Norway, Japan, and the United Kingdom. Only the winner qualifies for the Olympics.

“We’re thrilled that Aalborg will once again host a major event. The organization at Aalborg Pirates and the many volunteers around the city’s ice hockey teams always deliver an outstanding effort when it’s time for an ice hockey party.

Also, a big thank you to Aalborg Municipality, which has shown great willingness to cooperate around such a major event,” DIU chairman Henrik Bach Nielsen says.

He hopes and expects three sold-out games for Denmark and calls the Olympic qualification the biggest Danish ice hockey event in the calendar year 2024.

“It’s an early highlight of the 2024/25 season, and participation in the Olympics is something we prioritize extremely highly. After all, the Olympics only come around every four years. It would be a quality stamp if Danish ice hockey is represented again,” he says.

Experience NHL players

The special thing about the Olympic qualification is that Denmark potentially can field all the players who play their everyday hockey in the world’s best hockey league, the NHL, and of course also the players who play in the AHL, which is the level just below the NHL.

At the same time, it’s confirmed that NHL players – unlike the 2022 Olympics – will have the opportunity to participate in the Olympic tournament itself.

“The hope and belief are that our NHL and AHL players will support the national team in August in the pursuit of an Olympic spot.

Just to mention one example, Nikolaj Ehlers has never played a valid game on his home turf in Aalborg. Hopefully, he’ll seize that opportunity now,” Henrik Bach Nielsen explains.

At the organizing club Aalborg Pirates, director Lars Laursen looks forward to the Sparekassen Danmark Ice Arena hopefully being filled to the brim for the exciting Olympic qualification.

“We will pull out all the stops to turn the event into a people’s party with a lot of spectators, putting immense pressure on the three other participating national teams when Denmark’s best ice hockey players fight for a spot in the 2026 Olympics. It’s going to be a great event, one that we’re really looking forward to,” he says.

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