UND’s Hoff headed to Olympic Games
GRAND FORKS — Ludvig Hoff was still sleeping at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday morning when his phone rang.
It was his mother.
The University of North Dakota sophomore men’s hockey player answered and listened to her fight through tears of joy to deliver some news: Hoff made the Norwegian Olympic team and will be headed to PyeongChang, South Korea, next month to participate in the 2018 Winter Games.
“She was crying a little bit on the phone,” Hoff said. “I was really surprised. It was some good news to wake up to.
“It’s a childhood dream come true. I don’t think I’ve really processed the whole thing yet, that I’m going there, but I’m obviously really happy.”
Hoff, a sophomore center, is still ironing out travel plans.
He’ll play this weekend’s series against Denver before heading to South Korea. He’s expected to miss at least four games — a home series against Colorado College (Feb. 9-10) and a road series at Omaha (Feb. 16-17). He also may miss the road series at Miami on Feb. 23-24.
“Very excited for him,” UND coach Brad Berry said. “As a young boy growing up in your home country, you strive to play for the National Team on whatever level. To play on the Olympic stage is the ultimate goal. I’m very happy for him.
“You always have a little hesitation if a player leaves your program because of risks of injury or having a player out of your lineup. But we’ve always seen in the past with players going to the World Juniors that you always get a better player back. Hopefully, he’s going to get experience and confidence and we’ll see a better player when he gets back.”
Hoff has two goals and six points in 19 games this season.
He has known a couple of months that he was a candidate for Norway’s Olympic team, but hadn’t heard any news lately and was focused on playing the second half of the season at UND.
“It’s obviously been a goal my whole life, but I haven’t had that in my mind this season,” he said. “I’ve been trying to focus on hockey here at North Dakota. When I saw my name on the roster, I was surprised. It’s always been a goal but nothing I’ve been focused on.”
Hoff will join two-time UND captain Chay Genoway (Canada) as Olympians from the UND men’s program. The now-defunct UND women’s program is sending six: Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux (USA), Michelle Karvinen (Finland), Susanna Tapani (Finland), Emma Nuutinen (Finland) and Johanna Fallman (Sweden).
Hoff also is a second-generation Olympian.
His father, Geir, who played collegiately at Michigan State, suited up for Norway in three Olympic Games — 1988 in Calgary, 1992 in Albertville, France, and 1994 in Lillehammer, Norway.
“My dad has been telling me stories,” Hoff said. “Obviously, it’s something that means a lot to me.”
Hoff has previously played for Norway’s Under-18 team and World Junior Championship (under 20) team.
“I don’t think there’s anything bigger than the Olympics,” he said. “I’ve always been really happy and honored to represent national teams that I’ve been on. I’ll remember this for a long time.”
Hoff won’t be the only current college player headed to the Olympics.
Because NHLers aren’t playing this year, the U.S. also looked to the college ranks and named St. Cloud State defenseman Will Borgen of Moorhead, Denver forward Troy Terry, Boston University forward Jordan Greenway and Harvard forward Ryan Donato to its team.
“We have to iron out the details as far as the academics go,” Berry said. “Other players are leaving, too. They’re in the same boat. Hopefully, we can get him back as soon as we can.”
UND has had men’s hockey representatives in 15 of the last 18 Olympic Games dating back to the 1952 Oslo Games. Hoff is only the second European. Bob DePiero played for Italy in the 1984 Winter Games.