How would you react to a call that could change your life? A call at three in the morning, from your respective country about something that might only come once in your life. That’s exactly what Mavericks defensemen, Henrik Ødegaard experienced early in the morning on January 8th.
The wake-up call came from the Norwegian national team’s head coach, Roy Johansen, informing Ødegaard about his successful tryout and that he would be playing for the Norwegian hockey team in the 2014 Winter Olympics.
“It’s really exciting,” Ødegaard said about receiving the call about his Olympic spot. “I’m really happy and it’s exciting to get to represent your country in the Olympics. So I was really happy. The Olympics is the biggest sporting event you can participate in and I’m really excited for the competition and the opener against Canada is going to be pretty special so I’m just really excited for the whole thing.”
Ødegaard is the first Mavericks player to be sent to the Olympics and the third Central Hockey League player to represent his respective country in the Olympics. Ødegaard will play on the same ice with names such as Sydney Crosby, Tyler Seguin, Claude Giroux, Eric Staal and Brent Seabrook as the Norwegian National Team plays the Canadian National Team in their first game on Thursday, February 13 at 11 am CST.
“It’s going to be huge to play these guys,” Ødegaard said. “You have to do the little things right all the time to beat them, especially on defense. You have to be on the right side all the time and make the easy plays so you have to be ready and sharp.”
Ødegaard was assigned to the Mavericks at the beginning of the season by the AHL affiliate, Chicago Wolves. He has proven himself to be a vital role in a successful start and continuously plays well game-in and game-out. Appearing in 30 out of the Mavericks 32 games this season, Ødegaard has been an important part to the Mavs edge-to-edge defense.
“It’s the biggest honor I’ve had,” Mavericks Head Coach, Scott Hillman said on Ødegaard. “To know that in some small way that we have contributed to his career and know he will go play, what I believe, on the biggest stage for our game… Every guy in that locker room probably dreamt of playing in the Olympics and playing against your heroes and he’s going to face off in game one against guys we’d be happy to just shake hands with someday. It’s very exciting and he’ll do us proud.”
Ødegaard will leave early February so he’s prepared for the opening ceremonies on February 7. While the Mavericks will be sending Ødegaard out with style, Brent Thiessen is very proud of his defensemen saying, “We are extremely proud of Henrik and are excited to watch him in Sochi. We know he will perform at his best in representing his home country of Norway and the Missouri Mavericks right here in Independence, and wish him great success.”