The 2013-14 season is the 5th year of Missouri Mavericks hockey, in that time Mavericks fans have seen players be named goaltender of the week, player of the month and last year Central Hockey League Most Valuable Player. Now the fan base can add an "Olympian" to the list.
First year Mavericks defenseman Henrik Odegaard has made the Norway Olympic team. Odegaard was assigned to the Mavericks by their American Hockey League affiliate, the Chicago Wolves at the start of the season.
Once he learned of making the Olympic roster of his native Norway Odegaard "Felt a lot of excitement." He adds "Such an honor to be picked out to play for your country and Iím really happy." Henrik got a congratulatory phone call at 3 am central time from his dad thanks to the time difference over in Norway. After that Odegaard called his girlfriend and a couple of close friends. "Which was fun."
The Olympic process started for Odegaard by attending Norway tryouts and playing in 2 games against Switzerland and Slovakia. Odegaard feels it helped that he knew the coach and several players already as he spent the past 5 years on and off the national team.
Once in Sochi, Russia at the 2014 Olympic Winter games, Odegaard will try to get as much ice time as possible just like he does with the Missouri Mavericks.
Odegaard will soon be missing several Mavericks regular season games as he pursues a gold medal with the Norway Olympic hockey team. Henrik will leave for Norway on Feb. 4 to join his new teammates, then Odegaard says team plans are to leave Oslo, Norway on February 6 for the Olympic games.
Norwayís first game is against Canada on Thursday, Feb. 13th. One of seven defenesemen who will join team Norway, Odegaard and his new teammates are in Group B of the Ice hockey seeding which includes Finland, Austria and Canada, defending Gold Medal winners.
Odegaard is not only the first Missouri Maverick to play in the Olympic games but is currently the only Central Hockey League player named to an Olympic team.
His reaction to that news was simply, "Itís Big." Mavericks head coach Scott Hillman says he and his coaching staff are proud to have played a role in Odegaardís development as a player.
To no oneís surprise Odegaard has been getting lots of attention lately by both fans and media since being named to the Olympic team.
Playing for the Mavericks is "So much fun" and Odegaard thanks his teammates for helping him become a better overall player. Odegaard says his teammates are all very happy for him and he thinks the current team is made up of a great group of guys.
Mavericks President Brent Thiessen added "We are extremely proud of Henrik and are excited to watch him in Sochi."
Odegaard admits he has always dreamed of being an Olympian since starting to play hockey in his native Norway. The belief he could do it was helped by his experience in playing in two world championships.
Odegaard admits that itís a far trip from Norway to Russia but he expects some family and friends to make the round trip to see this "Once in a lifetime experience." Odegaard is looking forward to the entire Olympic experience from the opening ceremonies to the hockey games competing with his native countrymen.
While at the Olympics Odegaard will celebrate his 26th birthday which falls on February 12th. At this time there is no timetable for Odegaardís return to Missouri from the Olympic games.
Odegaard feels he will probably come right back after the games conclusion so he can help the Mavericks who play numerous games in both February and March.
For more information on the Winter Olympics and television coverage of hockey games go too www.nbcolympics.com.
To keep up on Norway and Odegaardís Olympic experiences visit www.missourimavericks.com.
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