Latvian Hockey News Report

By Didzis Rudmanis

Archive for September 2010

HeKi decides to release Straupe

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Latvian center Janis Straupe has not managed to impress the coaching staff of Finnish Mestis league club HeKi so that they would sign the 21-year-old Latvian, thus being released from the club.

He joined HeKi in late August for a one month try-out and played three official games for the club, scoring a goal and adding two penalty minutes. Unfortunately, he has been released, making it rather difficult finding a new club, as the season has already started.

However, currently it seems that the large number of Latvians employed in Finland (14 !) will not decrease after all, as Martins Gipters is on his way to Suomi-sarja club RoKi.

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Written by Didzis Rudmanis

September 27, 2010 at 17:11

Cipulis consecutive game streak ends

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After playing 130 consecutive KHL games, Amur Khabarovsk’s Latvian forward Martins Cipulis was not dressed for today’s game against Salavat Yulaev Ufa, ending his impressive streak.

Cipulis was only one of 13 KHL players, which did not miss a single game during the first two league’s seasons. The league is currently led by three Lokomotiv Yaroslavl’s players – Josef Vasicek, Ivan Tkachenko and Gennady Churilov, who have all as of now played 154 consecutive games. Before ending his streak, Latvian forward was ranked in the seventh place.

However, Cipulis still owns the Dinamo Riga consecutive game record – 124 games. He is currently chased down by Mikelis Redlihs, whose active streak is currently set at 114 games.

This is a list of Dinamo Riga’s top consecutive game streaks (streaks in bold are still active):

  • 124 – Martins Cipulis – 2008-2010
  • 114 – Mikelis Redlihs – 2008-2010
  • 83 – Marcel Hossa – 2009-2010
  • 75 – Lauris Darzins – 2008-2009
  • 56 – Lauris Darzins – 2009-2010
  • 52 – Aleksandrs Nizivijs – 2008-2009
  • 44 – Rodrigo Lavins – 2008-2009
  • 43 – Mark Hartigan – 2008-2009
  • 40 – Girts Ankipans – 2008-2009
  • 38 – Janis Sprukts – 2009-2010
  • 37 – Armands Berzins – 2008-2009
  • 34 – Matt Ellison – 2008-2009
  • 34 – Mike Iggulden – 2009-2010
  • 32 – Aleksandrs Nizivijs – 2009-2010
  • 31 – Aigars Cipruss – 2008-2009
  • 31 – Rodrigo Lavins – 2009
  • 31 – Rodrigo Lavins – 2009-2010
  • 30 – Girts Ankipans – 2009

Andersons and Stals reassigned to Metalurgs

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Dinamo Riga players defender Janis Andersons and forward Juris Stals, after returning from an away tour in Russia, have both been reassigned to Belarusian Extraleague club Metalurgs Liepaja, located 200 kilometers away from Riga.

Neither of the players have played a single game for Dinamo, however they both traveled to an away tour in Russia, in order to be ready to step into the roster, in case of injuries. Along them, also junior players Vitaly Karamnov and Ainars Podzins were with the team. Moreover, Podzins has been dressed for each and every game so far, but had the chance to participate in the actual game only tonight, during the 6:3 win over Neftekhimik Niznekamsk.

Metalurgs Liepaja has already played six regular season games, winning half of them. After many rumours during summer, in August Dinamo Riga signed an agreement with Metalurgs Liepaja, so that Dinamo might reassign up to five players to Liepaja, having no rights to call up a player signed by Metalurgs.

Hossa: “It is Russia after all”

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Today Arena Riga experienced it’s first 2010/11 KHL regular season game. The arena was overcrowded, however, in a game, which you could describe only as a hockey carousel, Dinamo Riga lost 4:5 in a shootout to Ak Bars Kazan, two time Gagarin Cup champion and the new home for Riga’s cult player Marcel Hossa. In a close collaboration with Baltā olimpiāde, we now offer you a post-game interview with Marcel.

Many fans and journalists were anticipating this game only to see you in action. How do you feel playing at front of the Riga fans?

– It was indeed very gratifying to return to Riga, moreover, to play at a season opening game here. Atmosphere in Arena Riga is always first rate. Fans had treated me very well during those past two seasons. Even tonight: they chanted my name – it was kind of cool. Hockey is my life, but I now play for Ak Bars and need to look at other direction. Riga is my second home city, where I will always return with joy.

Yes, now a new city is knocking at your life’s front door – Kazan – a new country, a different culture…

– Of course, there are certain differences regarding culture in Kazan. Riga is far more European. You know, it is Russia after all… However, I have no problems in Kazan, Ak Bars is a great organization and I can get anything I need.

About tonight’s game, Ak Bars scored two early goals. How did it affect the rest of the game? Because later Riga managed to respond with four goals, but in the end the victory was clinched by Ak Bars anyway.

– We managed to begin the game admirably well. Still, we must learn from our mistakes… We can’t play the same level of hockey for the whole three periods… Now we have two tough games ahead of us – in Minsk and Moscow.

What do you expect from yourself this season?

– I want to play at the Gagarin Cup Finals and keep on scoring goals. Kazan is a two-time Gagarin Cup champion, but there is still a very long way until the third cup to be hoisted…

Finally, how much do you stay in touch with your old teammates from Dinamo Riga?

– We call each other once in a while. One must understand that players do not have too much spare time during the season. I have the best relationships with Sergejs Naumovs, Aleksandrs Nizivijs and Mark Hartigan.

Two Latvians at Hull Stingrays

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After undergoing severe financial problems, bankruptcy and a rebirth with new owner, Hull Stingrays has now added two Latvian defenders – Aivars Gaisins and Kriss Grundmanis – to their Elite Ice Hockey League roster.

Gaisins joined Hull Stingrays already in January, to fill holes left by injuries, but apparently was resigned only today. The 28-year-old Latvian played only two games for Stingrays last season, breaking his hand in the latter of them. 21-year-old Kriss Grundmanis spent the previous season with Dinamo Juniors Riga of Belarusian league – the farm club of Kontinental Hockey League’s Dinamo Riga.

This will increase the total number of Latvian in EIHL to four, with Toms Hartmanis already being signed by Newcastle Vipers and goalie Ervins Mustukovs, announced as the league’s best player of week one, playing for Sheffield Steelers. There are another four players in English Premier Ice Hockey League.

Ozollapa fails to make Pelicans roster

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Latvian forward Eriks Ozollapa, who had signed a try-out contract with Pelicans Lahti of SM-liiga, has not been able to make the team’s roster.

In July Ozollapa already failed to make Dinamo Riga’s roster, but now the 23-year-old forward is once again without a club. Only now the situation is slightly more difficult – the season has already started in most countries and finding a new club might be  more difficult.

Without Ozollapa, there are only two more Latvians left at SM-liiga – Kaspars Saulietis and Armands Berzins, who both managed to sign one-year contracts with HPK, after proving themselves during a try-out. In lower-tier Finnish league there are 11 (!) more Latvian players.

Written by Didzis Rudmanis

September 13, 2010 at 15:28

Beibarys signs also Astasenko

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Kazakh league club Beibarys Atyrau next year will have the most Latvians at once out of any other foreign hockey club, as, after coming to an agreement with three Latvians, now also 35-year-old Kaspars Astasenko has signed a contract, reports Baltic Sport Agency.

Latvian defender, who has played 23 games for the Tampa Bay Lightning, has joined Beibarys after not playing the whole previous season. Between 2007 and 2009 Kaspars played in Italian league club Ritten/Renon.

Let me just remind you that during the recent pre-season, Beibarys scheduled a camp in Latvia, inviting five Latvian players to it. Later on, it chose to sign Martins Raitums, Andrejs Smirnovs and Ricards Birzins. However, none of the Latvians have joined Beibarys as of yet, as they were gaining Kazakh visa and, finally, will leave Latvia on September 13.