Latvian Hockey News Report

By Didzis Rudmanis

Latvian Legion in Kazakhstan

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If during the past season five Latvian players played for Kazakh club Beibarys Atyrau, this season the number of Latvian players in the Kazakh league will certainly grow.

As of now, both Martins Raitums and Andrejs Smirnovs have signed new contracts with Beibarys Atyrau and will stay with the club also for this season. Let me just remind you that Raitums had a tremendous season with Beibarys last year and at the end of the season received the best goaltender award. Similarly to last season, also this year Beibarys is holding its camp in Latvia, so, as a result, the number of Latvian players there is rumoured to be as high as 7 players (including ex-Metalurgs Liepaja players Valerijs Filimonovs and Maris Gravitis).

Four other Latvian players are currently rumoured to have a try-out contract with Kazakh clubs as well. Forwards Edijs Brahmanis and Vladimirs Mamonovs are said to be in the Sary-Arka Karaganda camp in Italy, while defensemen Edmunds Kniksts and Sergejs Tjoluskins are both fighting for a place on Arlan Kokshetau roster.

Notably, six ex-Metalurgs Liepaja players currently have try-out contracts with Kazakh league clubs. The main reason behind that is the tough financial situation of the Latvian club. Just after the previous season club even announced that it might lack finances, in order to compete in the Belarussian Extraleague. Currently the team’s average age is under 21 and during its first pre-season exhibition games it has lost to Kazakh VHL club Kazzinc-Torpedo twice (1:4 and 0:2).

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