Archive for August 2010
Latvian forward Eriks Ozollapa, who was recently released from the Dinamo Riga training camp, will join Pelicans Lahti of the SM liiga for a try-out next week, informs news agency LETA.
Ozollapa spent the previous four seasons playing in different North American leagues. Last two years he spent at the Robert Morris University in Illionis, whose team plays in the ACHA. The 23-year-old Latvian was released from Dinamo camp without having a chance to wear the Dinamo jersey at a single exhibition game.
Eriks becomes already the 13th (!) Latvian in different professional leagues of Finland at the moment and one of the three Latvians in the SM liiga, the other two being Kaspars Saulietis and Armands Berzins (try-out) in HPK. There are also Roberts Jekimovs, Mihails Koklins and Janis Purins (try-out) in different Mestis clubs, as well as seven Latvians in Suomi-sarja.
It has been two weeks, since the Beibarys Atyrau camp in Latvia ended and four(not three!) of the Latvian players, who were in the camp, were about to be signed. However, contracts would be signed only once they arrived in Kazakhstan. That has not happened as of yet, while all four players are still waiting for a visa.
Let me remind you that there were five players in the club for a try-out – Martins Raitums, Sergejs Tjoluskins, Ricards Birzins, Andrejs Smirnovs and Elvis Zelubovskis. Although it was previously announced that only Raitums, Birzins and Smirnovs had impressed coaches enough to be signed, also Sergejs Tjoluskins is currently waiting for a visa, in order to get on a flight to Kazakhstan.
The only Latvian player cut, Elvis Zelubovskis, just days after the camp ended joined Vastervik IK of the Swedish Division 1. For a try-out…
Finnish SM league club HPK has made two announcements today – Latvian forward Kaspars Saulietis, who was in the club for a try-out, has signed a one-year contract, but another Latvian Armands Berzins, who played parts of past two seasons with Dinamo Riga, has joined the club for a try-out.
Armands Berzins played full 2008/09 with the Dinamo Riga. He was third line center between Lauris Darzins and Mikelis Redlihs. The line had great chemistry, as all three had played together also in Latvian national team and HK Riga 2000, however Armands had one disadvantage – throughout the years he became too slow for his line partners. Dinamo Riga signed center Martin Kariya for 2009/10 and Berzins not only lost his spot on the third, but also on the fourth line, as fourth line center often was 1990-born Ronalds Cinks (KHL requires an U20 player on the roster, if the team is willing to play four full lines).
Berzins and Saulietis are not the first Latvian in HPK. In 2005/06, when HPK became the league champion, both Janis Sprukts and Kaspars Astasenko were on the roster, but during the 1990’s also Rodrigo Lavins and Vjaceslavs Fanduls spent one season with the club.
Finnish Suomi-Sarja (third tier) club Hermes, where five Latvian where trying to earn a spot on the team’s roster, decided to sign two of them – defender Gints Purins and forward Gatis Gricinskis. Both players signed a one-year contract with the club. Renars Undelis is still with the club, while Janis Bullitis has been released.
Still, they are only few of the Latvians, currently for a try-out in Finnish clubs. Edgars Cermnihs and Vadims Vabiscevics are still trying to impress the coaching staff of S-Kiekko (Suomi-sarja). Older brother of Gints Purins, Janis, is currently fighting for a spot on the Mestis (second thier) club Kiekko-Vantaa roster. Also Latvian national team forward Kaspars Saulietis is pursuing his try-out at HPK of SM-liiga.
Outside Finland, Elvis Zelubovskis is for a try-out in Vastervik IK of the Swedish Divison 1, but the 17-year-old is currently in Salzburg, trying to earn a spot on the second team’s roster.