Latvian Hockey News Report

By Didzis Rudmanis

Archive for August 2010

HeKi signs Straupe

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Finnish Mestis (second tier) league club HeKi has signed a two-way contract with 21-year-old Latvian forward Janis Straupe, who was released from Belarusian Metallurg Zhlobin a couple of week ago, reports icebox.lv.

Straupe spent the last season with Dinamo Juniors Riga, the affiliate of Dinamo Riga, at the Belarusian Extraleague. He posted 39 (15+24) points in 49 games, finishing the season as the team’s top scorer along Miks Indrasis. In 2008/09 Straupe appeared also in five Dinamo Riga games. Already in May Janis signed a contract with Metallurg Zhlobin, however in the middle of August he was released from the club.

Straupe has become already the fourteenth (!) Latvian in different Finnish leagues for the upcoming season and the fourth Latvian in Mestis, others being Roberts Jekimovs (Jokipojat), Mihails Koklins (LeKi), Janis Purins (try-out, Kiekko-Vantaa).

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Latvian Railways Cup – through the prism of Dinamo

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This evening Dinamo Riga lost to Lokomotiv Yaroslavl in the final game of the 2010 Latvian Railways Cup. The final score was 5:1. The only goal for Dinamo was scored by Tomas Surovy early in the third period.

However, in general, Dinamo played a solid tournament in front of their fans, winning OHK Dynamo Moscow 4:2 and in the first game between Dinamo and Lokomotiv – winning Lokomotiv 5:1. Still, Dinamo lost to Atlant 3:5, but that game was played without Sandis Ozolins and Aleksandrs Nizivijs on the roster. Lauris Darzins has a minor injury, which let him miss the whole tournament, also Guntis Galvins missed the second half of the tournament.

During this week we could finally conclude that the Dinamo’s first line, at least for the beginning of the season, will be Nizivijs – Hartigan – Surovy, Ozolins – Cibulskis. The only possible change might be adding a more experienced partner for Ozolins, although Cibulskis proved himself to have improved his game over the summer. Despite the fact that the line is playing together for less than a month, they already have established great chemistry and will be a huge force during the season.

Also the second attacking line remained the same during the tournament and most likely will stay like that until September. Karsums – Sprukts – Ankipans was certainly the best line at the yesterday’s 5:1 victory over Lokomotiv. Sprukts played a terrific game, posting three (1+2) points, while Karsums scored another two goals. All three fit together pretty well.

As Darzins missed the tournament, regarding the third and fourth line head coach Julius Supler could arrange some experimental lines, which he did not regret doing. During the tournament we saw:

Bukarts – Trotter – M.Redlihs, Karamnov – Dzerins – Meija (these two lines were played in both games against Yaroslavl)

Podzins – Karamnov – Stals, Meija – Dzerins – Bukarts

Trotter – Karamnov – M.Redlihs, Meija – Dzerins – Bukarts.

However, it still seems that after the return of Darzins, we will see Darzins – Trotter – M.Redlihs as the third line, but the fourth line at the beginning of the season might look like Bukarts – Karamnov(Dzerins) – Meija.

There could be more speculations about the defensive pairings, so I will leave them out. Tellqvist stood in the net during three of the games and let in a total of 13 pucks, while Holt, in his only game, let in only a single goal. However, I would still doubt that Holt will be the starting goalie at the in September.

Dinamo will play only one more exhibition game – on September 3 against Metalurgs Liepaja. On September 9 the regular season will begin and Dinamo will face SKA in St. Petersburg.

Ozollapa for a try-out in Lahti

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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.

Atyrau remains unapproachable

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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…

U20 roster for the Zholtok Cup announced

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Latvian Hockey Federation has announced the Latvian national U20 team roster for the sixth Sergei Zholtok Memorial Cup, which will take place on September 1-4 in Riga, Latvia. This year the tournament will include Latvian, Belarusian, Danish U20 teams, as well as the Russian U18 team.

In December the team, led by Leonids Beresnevs, will play in World U20 Championships Div.1 tournament in Belarus. Latvian team will have only one aim – to win over Belarusians and to return to the Elite division.

Tournament schedule:

September 1, 19:00 Latvia U20 – Belarus u20
September 2, 16:00 Denmark U20 – Belarus U20
September 2, 19:15 Latvia U20 – Russia U18
September 3, 16:00 Belarus U20 – Russia U18
September 3, 19:15 Latvia U20 – Denmark U20
September 4, 15:00 Russia U18 – Denmark U20

The roster includes all the best junior players, currently playing in Latvia. As of players, who are playing abroad, only Ronalds Kenins (GC/Kusnacht Lions) and Girts Jansons (Muik Hockey) will take part in this tournament. It is expected that the World Championship roster will also include Kristians Pelss (Edmonton Oil Kings), Vitalijs Hvorostinins (fighting for a spot on Val-d’Or Foreurs), Rolands Vigners (Reims), Matiss Mezulis (Gotteron U20) and probably also brothers Ralfs and Kristers Freibergs, both playing in Sweden.

Official roster for the tournament:

G Toms Broks HK Riga
G Janis Kalnins Metalurgs Liepaja
D Arturs Salija HK Riga
D Eriks Sevcenko HK Riga
D Glebs Rogoza Metalurgs Liepaja
D Martins Jakovlevs HK Riga
D Martins Porejs HK Riga
D Raimonds Tubelis HK Riga
D Reinis Demiters Metalurgs Liepaja-2
D Rolands Gritans Metalurgs Liepaja-2
D Romans Sevcenko Metalurgs Liepaja-2
F Arturs Mickevics HK Riga
F Bruno Zabis Metalurgs Liepaja-2
F Edgars Abolins Metalurgs Liepaja-2
F Egils Kalns Metalurgs Liepaja-2
F Elvijs Biezais HK Riga
F Girts Jansons Muik Hockey
F Juris Upitis HK Riga
F Maris Bicevskis HK Riga
F Maris Dilevka Metalurgs Liepaja
F Miks Lipsbergs HK Riga
F Raimonds Upenieks HK Riga
F Ronalds Kenins GC/Kusnacht Lions
F Vladislavs Dobrenkijs HK Riga

Berzins makes some company to Saulietis in HPK

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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.

Hermes sign Purins and Gricinskis

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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.