Latvian Hockey News Report

By Didzis Rudmanis

Pelss talks about his own past

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Once Edmonton Oilers had picked Latvian forward Kristians Pelss in the seventh round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, a lot of people wondered, who is this kid. As months passed and Pelss arrived to Edmonton, some of them were resolved, but not a lot about his earlier days was learned. We now offer not only some background info about the player, but also a small conversation with Pelss.

Kristians has began 2010-11 by posting a goal and adding a single assist in 10 games for the Edmonton Oil Kings of the WHL.

Pelss, who was born in Preili, for the first time stepped on ice in Daugavpils, where he began his junior career. At the age of 16 he managed to earn a spot on the DHK Latgale team, which played in the Belarusian league – a professional league, comparable to British Elite Ice Hockey League, French Ligue Magnus or even Austrian EBEL. In 2009-10, when DHK Latgale, due to financial problems, returned to playing in Latvian league, which currently is a half-professional league, Pelss joined Dinamo Juniors Riga, the farm club of KHL’s Dinamo Riga.

Pelss statistics:

GP G A P PIM
2008-2009 DHK Latgale Belarus 31 3 4 7 17
DHK Latgale-2 Latvia 22 9 11 20 24
Daugavpils U20 Latvia U20 8 3 9 12 16
Latvia U18 WJC-18 D1 4 0 1 1 6
2009-2010 Dinamo Juniors Riga Belarus 46 6 3 9 28
Latvia U18 WJC-18 6 2 1 3 0

Kristians also did not mind answering us a couple of questions about his earlier days of his hockey career.

Who encouraged you to start playing hockey?

- When I was eight years old, my father took me to Daugavpils, where at that time an arena had been recently opened, and already before my first practice he bought me a full equipment – by then I never once had skated, but I learned that fairly quick and I really enjoyed it. Before turning to ice hockey, for several years I attended Judo lessons.

Do you consider yourself an alumnus of Metalurgs Liepaja or Daugavpils hockey school? After all, you have spent reasonable time in both of the cities.

- Despite the fact that I gained a lot also during my time in Liepaja, I am without a doubt an alumnus of Daugavpils hockey school, because that is where I started to play and that is where I grew up as a hockey player.

When you returned to Daugavpils, you had just turned 16 years old – did you expect to make the roster of DHK Latgale, who played in the Belarusian league, straight away?

- No, but prior 2008-09 I was coached by Jurijs Agureikins, who let me practice and play together with one up to three years older players than myself, which I am truly thankful to him.

How did you feel, when, being 16 years old, you started playing among professionals?

- Straight away I felt the difference between junior and professional hockey. Still, at least in my opinion, I got used to the professional hockey pretty fast, as my teammates helped me a lot, often saying what I ought to do in different situations.

What relationship do you have with Vitalijs Hvorostinins? [Hvorostinins also comes from Preili and now plays for Val-d’Ior Foreurs in the QMJHL]

- Well, I could say that he is my best friend – we grew up together and for a longer time played together. Also now we regularly talk to each other on Skype, encouraging one another and that really helps, when you don’t see your friends too often.

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