When his phone rang at 6:30am Wednesday morning, Ludvig Hoff was still asleep, trying to get ready for a day of classes ahead. Little did he know that on the other line would be news that would make him the “Man of the Hour” today at University of North Dakota’s athletics weekly press conference after his announcement as part of Norway’s Olympic hockey team. With this, Hoff becomes the first European-born player from UND’s men’s program to play in the Olympics (Bob DePiero played for Italy in 1984, but was born in Thunder Bay, ON).
“It was actually my mom who called me and told me,” said Hoff during the press conference. “She was watching the sports channel back home and told me I made the team. She was crying a little bit. It was good news to wake up to.”
With two goals and six assists in 19 games, his stats haven’t been overwhelming, but Hoff’s intangibles have made him noticeable for the Fighting Hawks. There were some rumblings that as the time drew near, he’d have a good shot of making the team even though he wasn’t aiming for it.
“I was a little surprised,” confessed Hoff. “Obviously, I’m very honored and it’s a dream come true. I don’t think I’ve really processed the whole thing yet. It’s obviously been a goal my whole life, but it wasn’t even on my mind for this season. I was more focused on hockey here (at UND).”
There is a lineage to this, as Ludvig’s father Geir Hoff played in two Olympics for Norway in 1992 in Albertville and 1994 in Lillehammer. Geir also took a different route than most Norwegians by coming to North America to play college hockey, as Geir played two seasons at Michigan State before returning to Norway and being a part of five Norwegian Championship teams.
“I grew up watching and my dad was in it, so he’s told me stories about it,” mentioned Hoff. “It’s something that means a lot to me. It’s nice to see how many people care and getting congratulations from everyone.”
This isn’t the first time Hoff is part of the National team, as he captained two U-20 Division 1 squads for Norway in 2015 and 2016, while also taking part in the U-18 tournaments as an alternate captain. Yet, when he went to a tryout camp last month, he did have some nerves in going.
“When I was at the tryout camps over Christmas break, the guys took me in with open arms,” Hoff mentioned. “They understood I was nervous, but they made it easy to be there.”
“Very excited for him,” said head coach Brad Berry. “It’s one of those things growing up as a boy in your home country, it’s one of those things you strive to play for your National team. To play on the Olympic stage is the ultimate goal, I guess. You always have hesitation with a player leaving who could be at risk of injury, but we’ve seen from players going to the World Juniors that you always get a better player back. It’s the hope he’ll get experience and confidence and we’ll get a better player back.”
Coach Berry did say there’s ironing out of details with academics and all of that, but Berry is confident those will be hammered down and he’ll be back sooner rather than later. The thought is that Hoff will leave after the bye-weekend on February 4th to get ready for Norway’s first game on February 15th against Sweden.