Latvian Hockey News Report

By Didzis Rudmanis

Archive for June 2010

Blinovs joins Shakhter Soligorsk

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Latvian forward Viktors Blinovs will remain in the Belarusian league also next season, however he will play in Shakhter Soligorsk, the farm club of KHL’s Dynamo Minsk, instead of Metallurg Zhlobin, where he spent his previous season.

Most likely, Blinovs has a two-way contract, so, in a case of great performance, he could work his way back to the KHL, where he played 24 games with Dinamo Riga in 2008-09.

Actually, Kaspars Saulietis (who is currently in HPK for a try-out), has already taken this path in the past. He played in Zhlobin, but was noticed by the board of Dynamo Minsk and signed a contract, so that he joined Dynamo Minsk mid-season of 2008-09. He continued playing in Minsk also in 2009-10.

Maksims Sirokovs will play in Karlskrona

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Latvian defenseman Maksims Sirokovs has confirmed that he will sign a one-year contract with Karlskrona HK, playing in Swedish Divison 1 (third tier). He will join Latvian forward Arturs Ozolins, who already has a contract with the club.

In an interview to he said: “I had an offer to play in Slovakia, but I did not want to stay there, because the level of organization there is rather low. Moreover, at the end HK Nitra did not pay me all my wage and apparently is not going to. I had also an option to join Finnish Mestis league and also my agent negotiated with Wolfe Freiburg of German 2nd Bundesliga, where Olegs Znaroks used to play. Karlskrona option was the most interesting – both regarding career possibilities and financial aspect. There are good only good comments about Karlskrona. Usually games are attended by 2000 – 3000 people and the team is among the strongest ones in Division 1. Regularly clubs qualify to play in Allsvenskan, also Karlskrona is among the favourites. My contract is proposed for only the next season, however I do hope that together with the new club we will reach Allsvenskan and I will continue my career there.”

Maksims older brother Aleksejs Sirokovs in autumn will begin his second season with Amur Khabarovsk, playing in the KHL.

Dinamo Riga announces 48 candidates for the MHL team (updated)

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Dinamo Riga is getting ready not only for the next season of Kontinental Hockey League, but also MHL, where HK Riga is going to take part in for the first time. Just before the beginning of training camp on June 5, club’s homepage initially announced 46 candidates for the team, but a few days later 2 more players (Jasionis and Ozols) were added to the list.

Both Viktors Jasionis and Mikus Ozols are forwards. While Ozols, being 1991-born, played in Arboga last year, Jasionis played in the Latvian league club Metalurgs Liepaja-2.

Pos. Nat. Name Date of birth Previous club
GK Latvia Ivars Punnenovs 1994.05.30 Pikes EHC Oberthurgau
GK Latvia Kristers Gudlevskis 1992.07.31 Ozolnieki/Juniors
GK Latvia Rihards Cimermanis 1993.03.22 SK Riga/Profs 18
GK Latvia Toms Broks 1991.04.24 Arboga J20
GK Latvia Uldis Calpa 1991.09.04 SK Riga/Profs 18
DF Latvia Andrejs Smirnovs 1992.06.27 SK Riga/Profs 18
DF Latvia Arturs Salija 1992.05.15 SK Riga/Profs 18
DF Latvia Edgars Dikis 1991.10.16 Arboga J20
DF Latvia Edvards Zarins 1991.12.02 Arboga J20
DF Latvia Eriks Sevcenko 1991.04.28 Dinamo-Juniors Riga
DF Latvia Gustavs Celms 1993.11.12 SK Riga/Profs 18
DF Latvia Janis Lazdans 1992.10.04 SK Riga/Profs 18
DF Latvia Karlis Kalvitis 1991.03.25 Shattuck St. Mary’s
DF Latvia Kriss Lipsbergs 1993.04.03 SK Riga/Profs 18
DF Latvia Kristaps Nimanis 1993.07.21 SK Riga/Profs 18
DF Latvia Martins Jakovlevs 1991.05.04 Dinamo-Juniors Riga
DF Latvia Martins Porejs 1991.07.06 Dinamo-Juniors Riga
DF Latvia Nikita Kolesnikovs 1992.10.30 SK Riga/Profs 18
DF Latvia Pauls Zvirbulis 1993.02.24 SK Riga/Profs 18
DF Latvia Ricards Birzins 1989.04.24 Dinamo-Juniors Riga
FW Latvia Andris Siksnis 1993.05.06 SK Riga/Profs 18
FW Latvia Davis Straupe 1992.08.05 SK Riga/Profs 18
FW Latvia Deniss Baskatovs 1993.04.06 HK Prizma
FW Latvia Edgars Bebris 1991.08.07 HK Ogre
FW Latvia Elvijs Biezais 1991.06.30 Dinamo-Juniors Riga
FW Latvia Ivans Dmitrijevs 1992.07.08 HK Prizma
FW Latvia Janis Berzins 1992.12.20 SK Riga/Profs 18
FW Latvia Janis Zarins 1991.07.29 Arboga J20
FW Sweden Jesper Aasa 1991.08.12 Shattuck St. Mary’s
FW Latvia Juris Upitis 1991.06.16 Dinamo-Juniors Riga
FW Latvia Juris Ziemins 1993.09.15 SK Riga/Profs 18
FW Latvia Kirils Tambijevs 1992.02.04 SK Riga/Profs 18
FW Latvia Kristians Pelss 1992.09.09 Dinamo-Juniors Riga
FW Latvia Lauris Rancevs 1993.10.17 SK Riga/Profs 18
FW Latvia Maris Bicevskis 1991.08.03 Dinamo-Juniors Riga
FW Latvia Mikelis Freimanis 1992.09.17 Ozolnieki/Juniors
FW Latvia Miks Indrasis 1990.09.30 Dinamo-Juniors Riga
FW Latvia Miks Lipsbergs 1991.06.09 Dinamo-Juniors Riga
FW Latvia Raimonds Upenieks 1992.02.20 SK Riga/Profs 18
FW Latvia Raimonds Vilkoits 1990.04.10 Dinamo-Juniors Riga
FW Latvia Rinalds Rautensilds 1993.01.15 SK Riga/Profs 18
FW Latvia Ronalds Cinks 1990.03.22 Dinamo Riga
FW Latvia Rudolfs Prusis 1992.05.26 SK Riga/Profs 18
FW Latvia Rustams Begovs 1993.06.26 SK Riga/Profs 18
FW Latvia Vjaceslavs Movko 1992.01.22 HK Ogre
FW Latvia Vladislavs Dobrenkijs 1991.08.08 Dinamo-Juniors Riga

Three Latvians drafted in the CHL Import Draft (updated)

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Today Latvian forwards Kristians Pelss, who was drafted into the NHL by Edmonton Oilers three days ago, and Vitalijs Hvorostinins, as well as defender Ricards Berzins(Richards Berzins), were drafted during the CHL Import Draft. Pelss was picked by the Edmonton Oil Kings of WHL #19 overall, while Hvorostinins was selected by Val-d’Or Foreurs #30 overall, but Berzins was picked by Owen Sound Attack #58 overall.

Let me just remind you that last season Pelss played for the Dinamo-Juniors Riga in the Belarusian league. Pelss, who learned the game of hockey in Daugavpils, scored nine points in 48 games last season. He also played in the U18 IIHF World Championship in Minsk, where was one of the Latvian national team leaders, although managed to score only two goals.

Vitalijs Hvorostinins, just like Pelss, learned the game of hockey in Daugavpils and, instead of Pelss, Hvorostinins played in local DHK Latgale last season, scoring 23 (9+14) points in 30 games. He also played several games for the Daugavpils U18 team.

Ricards Berzins spent previous season with HS Prizma/Pardaugava 92 in the Latvian U18 league and did not make the Latvian U18 national team. In 2008-09 he also played 20 games for Latvian league club HS Prizma/Hanza Riga. Before this draft, his name was rather unfamiliar around the Latvian hockey community.

The highest-ever drafted Latvian player in the CHL Import Draft was Agris Saviels, who was the number one draft pick in 1999. He was picked by Owen Sound Attack. In a more recent history, Kaspars Daugavins was the third overall pick in 2006. He was chosen by Toronto St. Michael’s Majors of OHL. Last year Daugavins made his debut in the NHL, playing a single game for the Ottawa Senators.

Masalskis signs with Yugra

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Latvian goaltender Edgars Masalskis, who spent previous season in Dinamo Riga and is a part of Latvian national team, has signed a one year contract with Yugra Khanty-Mansiysk of the Kontinental Hockey League.

Already once the season ended, a lot of rumours regarding Masalskis future plans arised, the most popular ones including destinations of Spartak Moscow and Ak Bars Kazan. However, approximately two weeks ago there were rumours that he had signed with Budivelnyk Kiev(which withdrew from the KHL due to problems with arena less than a week ago).

Dinamo Riga GM Normunds Sejejs had said that both sides had tough time negotiating, so it ended without any beneficial results. Instead, Dinamo Riga signed Chris Holt and said to have a mutual agreement with Henrik Karlsson. As I already reported some days ago, Karlsson will not play in Riga, hoping of making the second goalie position in Calgary.

When Dinamo Riga was established in 2008, Masalskis signed a contract with the club and played eight spectacular games. Unfortunately, in October, after a team’s dinner in Old Riga, being drunk, he got into a brawl, where broke his ankle and so was fired from the club. When he finally healed his injury, he joined Fuchse Duisburg of DEL as a place, where to finish the season.

Prior 2009-10, Masalskis signed a new contract with Dinamo Riga and played a great season, allowing the team to beat respectable SKA St. Petersburg in the first round of Gagarin Cup Playoffs. SKA had such stars as Esche, Zubov, Cajanek, Sushinsky, Yashin on their roster. SKA St. Petersburg finished first in the Western Conference in the regular season.

Masalskis is the fourth import player signed by Yugra. The club has also signed contracts with Swedish defenseman Tommy Wargh and Slovak forwards Vladimir Dravecky and Marek Zagrapan.

Karlsson flying to Calgary, instead of Riga

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Although two weeks ago Dinamo Riga official homepage announced that there is a mutual agreement between the club and 1.98m tall Swedish goalie Henrik Karlsson, after his rights were traded to Calgary Flames during the draft yesterday, he has already announced that he will push himself to the limits, in order to make the team.

“I am really excited that I am going to be a Calgary Flame,” said Karlsson for Flames homepage. “I had heard some rumours about being traded a week ago but I didn’t think too much about it.”

Karlsson is expected to be the back-up goalie for the 33-year-old Miika Kiprusoff, as Vesa Toskala’s four million contract has come to an end. According to Flames homepage, Henrik didn’t seem too worried that Kiprusoff is able of playing 70 up to 75 games a season.

Chronology of Henrik Karlsson and his relation to Dinamo Riga:

  • June 14 – Dinamo Riga announces that there is a mutual agreement and Karlsson will play in Riga.
  • June 14 – The same day Karlsson’s agent Joakim Perssondenies the information released by Dinamo.
  • June 22 – There are reports that Persson is working his sleeves out, in order to negotiate with the Sharks.
  • June 26 – During the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Karlsson’s rights are acquired by the Flames.
  • June 27 – Karlsson announces that he is going for his dream, the NHL.

Tomas Surovy joins Dinamo Riga

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It has been confirmed that the 28-year-old Slovakian forward Tomas Surovy has signed a one-year contract with Dinamo Riga of the Kontinental Hockey League.

The previous season Surovy began in his native Banska Bystrica club, but soon enough he moved to Sweden, where scores 23(10+13) points in 48 games for Skelleftea.

In 2001 Tomas was drafted in the NHL, when Pittsburg Penguins selected him #120 overall. Up to 2006 Tomas played for both Pittsburgh Penguins and their AHL affiliate – Scranton Penguins.

He then returned to Europe, playing 2006-07 in Lulea, while between 2007 and 2009 he also remained in Swedish Elitserien, playing for Linkopings HC.

Oilers pick Pelss

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After three “empty” draft years for the currently 12th highest ranked country in the IIHF rankings, 1992-born forward Kristians Pelss has been selected by Edmonton Oilers #181 overall. Last season Pelss played for the Dinamo-Juniors Riga.

Pelss, who learned the game of hockey in Daugavpils, scored nine points in 48 games last season. He also played in the U18 IIHF World Championship in Minsk, where was one of the Latvian national team leaders, although managed to score only two goals.

Pelss is not the first Latvian player drafted by Edmonton Oilers – in 1993 Oilers picked Aleksandrs Kercs, who then played five games for the club in 1993-94.

Latvian players had not been drafted in the National Hockey League since 2006, when Senators chose Kaspars Daugavins, but Thrashers picked Arturs Kulda. Both made their debuts in the league last season.

Latvian hockey community does not expect another three years to pass, until the next Latvian is selected during the NHL Entry Draft, because 1994-born center forward Zemgus Girgensons, according to some North American draft analysts, is believed to be picked during the first or second round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Being 16 years old, he also played at the U18 World Championship in Minsk.

Another perspective 1994-born player is defender Kristaps Bazevics, who will play for AIK J18 in the Swedish U18 Elite league next season. He will turn 16 only in August.

Mark Hartigan returns to Riga

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After a season spent in CSKA Moscow, Canadian forward Mark Hartigan has signed a new contract with Dinamo Riga, informs the club’s official homepage.

After helping the Detroit Red Wings hoist the Stanley Cup in 2007-08, Hartigan proceeded to sign with the newly formed Dinamo Riga of the KHL for 2008-09.

Mark managed to score 37(20+17) points in 55 games, finishing his first season in Europe as the third leading scorer of Dinamo Riga, just behind Marcel Hossa and Matt Ellison.

He spent previous season playing for CSKA Moscow, where managed to score 22 points in 48 games. Just like in Riga a season ago, also CSKA Moscow was eliminated in the first round of the KHL playoffs.

Hartigan is the first foreign forward signed by Riga this summer. Previously GM Normunds Sejejs confirmed that both Juraj Simek and Kenneth Bergqvist will be in the training camp for a try-out. However, there hasn’t been a contract signed with them.

UPDATE: On June 27 it was confirmed that Simek does have a try-out contract signed. No news on Bergqvist though.