Missouri Mavericks defenseman Henrik Odegaard slept through the first of dozens of texts and messages from his friends in Norway early Tuesday morning.
They wanted to congratulate him on making the 2014 Norwegian Olympic ice hockey team that will compete in the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, in February.
“The announcement was at 3 a.m. and I was sleeping,” Odegaard said as he received congratulatory handshakes from his teammates in the Mavericks locker room. “I was wondering what had happened, if I had made the team, and I woke up around 4 a.m. and saw all the texts and messages and started to return some phone calls (to Norway).
“This is a dream come true, it is just so exciting.”
Odegaard was assigned to the Mavericks by their American Hockey League affiliate, the Chicago Wolves, at the beginning of the season.
He has been an integral part of the Mavericks’ blue line this season and continues to expand his game and develop as one of the premier players in the CHL.
“It is an incredible honor for an athlete to compete for his country, and now Henrik will have a huge support system of fans right here in Kansas City cheering for him as he squares off against some of the very best players in the world,” Mavericks coach Scott Hillman said.
One of seven defensemen who will join team Norway in Sochi, Odegaard will join his Olympic teammates in Group B of the ice hockey seeding, which includes Finland, Austria, and the defending gold medal winners from Canada.
“We open against Canada on Feb. 13, so I will be on the same ice with (Pittsburgh Penguins star) Sidney Crosby,” said Odegaard, who has two assists, no goals, 35 penalty minutes and a plus-3 plus-minus rating for the Mavericks in 28 games.
When rookie teammate Tyler Currier heard that Odegaard was back home trying out for the Norway team, he joked, “If I was Henrik, in that first game I'd just skate as close to Crosby as I could so I could get my picture taken with him.”
While the Mavericks have played many games this season a man or two down because of injury, illness and suspension, this move thrills Hillman.
“We believe he will leave the first week of February,” the coach said. “Henrik is one of the most physical and most explosive defensemen in the Central Hockey League. He is an absolute nightmare for opponents to play against because of his attention to detail, speed and physicality.”
While the Mavericks are looking into a special sendoff for their Olympian, team president Brent Thiessen said, “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.”
RUSH COMING TO TOWN: The second-place Mavericks play their next two games at home in a back-to-back weekend series against the first-place Rapid City Rush at 7:05 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Independence Events Center.
The first 1,500 fans through the doors on Friday night will receive a Mac bobblehead. Tickets are available at ticketmaster.com and at the Events Center box office for both games.
DEFENSEMAN IS NEW FATHER: One simple Facebook post let all Mavericks fans in on the big news. Defenseman Dave Pszenyczny simply stated, “Today I am a father.” His wife Natalie gave birth to 7.6-pound, 20.5-inch Easton Vaughn Pszenyczny at 7:02 a.m. Jan. 6. Mother, baby and father are doing fine.
“There were no problems; it was a perfect delivery,” Pszenyczny said Tuesday afternoon. “I can't believe how alert he is. From the moment he was born, he has been looking around, taking in everything. It's the most exciting moment of my life.”
MAVS WAIVE SMITH: The Mavericks waived Brandon Smith, a forward who rejoined the team to help Hillman out because of a bevy of injuries and illness.
“We appreciate what Brandon did for us,” Hillman said of Smith, who played in three games last week, “but he had to return to his full-time job.”