Red Deer Rebels Danish goalie Lasse Petersen brings calm to net

Red Deer Rebels goalie Lasse Petersen was a relative unknown when he arrived on Canadian soil.

As a 16-year-old, undrafted in the WHL import draft, Petersen came from Denmark, to the small community of Swan River, Man. where his dad Erik was set to be GM and head coach of the Swan Valley Stampeders Junior A Hockey Club.

The younger Petersen played parts of two seasons with the Stampeders, before making a mark in 2015-2016 in Calgary Hitmen training camp in what would turn out to be the first of four stops for the netminder in the league.

He spent the remainder of the season with the Spokane Chiefs where he put up a 2.95 goals against average in 18 games, before landing in Everett to start this season. He was traded to the Rebels on Oct. 13 for a sixth round pick in the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft and owns a record of 5-5-1-0, a 3.72 GAA and a .886 save percentage with Red Deer.

“I’ve gotten a good share of playing time and I’ll take what I can get,” Petersen said. “Good practice, full-time goalie coach so, really it’s just wanting to improve my game everyday. I’m really fortunate to be here right now.”

While his numbers aren’t world-beating, Rebels associate coach Jeff Truitt said he liked what Petersen has brought to the table so far.

“Real competitive guy, he’s a guy that doesn’t like being scored on,” Truitt said. “He’s a battling type of goaltender and that’s what you like in the crease is a guy who not only gets the first one but really battles for the second one.”

The happy-go-lucky Dane leaned on his stick in the quiet hall of the Centrium on Thursday, as he recalled the days of a young goalie growing up in Denmark, even before he was old enough to skate and idolized hall-of-famer Patrick Roy.

“Where I grew up, we had a coach who would have goalie sessions every Friday, even when I was younger between nine, 10 and 11,” he said. “In my case I was really lucky, and Team Denmark, as I got older, also hosted a lot of goaltending camps to improve your game and introduce new techniques. In my case, Denmark was really good at development, so I was really lucky.”

While the young netminder carries a much calmer demeanor than his original idol, he likely takes after fellow countryman and current Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Fredrik Andersen. Petersen follows Andersen not only because of their Danish roots, but the goalies also share a similar stature. Andersen is also a taller goalie by NHL standards, at six-foot-four, much like Petersen, who is listed at six-foot-two. He cites his height as a big advantage between the pipes.

“As I got older, looking at technique and who I wanted to emulate my game, I grew up watching Fredrik Andersen,” Petersen said. “I really wanted to be big and calm like him. He still has a couple inches on me, so I have to be a little more aggressive than he has to. But really I like his calm demeanor in the game. He doesn’t seem to get too rattled about anything.”

The 19-year-old also hopes to follow in Andersen’s footsteps later this month, when he will look to earn a spot in Denmark’s net for the World Junior Hockey Championships. Last year, Petersen was the third goalie on the Danish team, but after that experience, he hopes to earn some more time in the crease on the international stage.

“That was more of a learning experience, being a younger guy,” he said. “Show me the ropes for this year, and I hope to get the starting position, that’s what I’m shooting for. Camp is soon, and I’m hoping to make a good impression and get lots of playing time.”

byron.hackett@bprda.wpengine.com

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