Latvian Hockey News Report

By Didzis Rudmanis

Posts Tagged ‘Belarusian league

Pelss talks about his own past

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Once Edmonton Oilers had picked Latvian forward Kristians Pelss in the seventh round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, a lot of people wondered, who is this kid. As months passed and Pelss arrived to Edmonton, some of them were resolved, but not a lot about his earlier days was learned. We now offer not only some background info about the player, but also a small conversation with Pelss.

Kristians has began 2010-11 by posting a goal and adding a single assist in 10 games for the Edmonton Oil Kings of the WHL.

Pelss, who was born in Preili, for the first time stepped on ice in Daugavpils, where he began his junior career. At the age of 16 he managed to earn a spot on the DHK Latgale team, which played in the Belarusian league – a professional league, comparable to British Elite Ice Hockey League, French Ligue Magnus or even Austrian EBEL. In 2009-10, when DHK Latgale, due to financial problems, returned to playing in Latvian league, which currently is a half-professional league, Pelss joined Dinamo Juniors Riga, the farm club of KHL’s Dinamo Riga.

Pelss statistics:

GP G A P PIM
2008-2009 DHK Latgale Belarus 31 3 4 7 17
DHK Latgale-2 Latvia 22 9 11 20 24
Daugavpils U20 Latvia U20 8 3 9 12 16
Latvia U18 WJC-18 D1 4 0 1 1 6
2009-2010 Dinamo Juniors Riga Belarus 46 6 3 9 28
Latvia U18 WJC-18 6 2 1 3 0

Kristians also did not mind answering us a couple of questions about his earlier days of his hockey career.

Who encouraged you to start playing hockey?

– When I was eight years old, my father took me to Daugavpils, where at that time an arena had been recently opened, and already before my first practice he bought me a full equipment – by then I never once had skated, but I learned that fairly quick and I really enjoyed it. Before turning to ice hockey, for several years I attended Judo lessons.

Do you consider yourself an alumnus of Metalurgs Liepaja or Daugavpils hockey school? After all, you have spent reasonable time in both of the cities.

– Despite the fact that I gained a lot also during my time in Liepaja, I am without a doubt an alumnus of Daugavpils hockey school, because that is where I started to play and that is where I grew up as a hockey player.

When you returned to Daugavpils, you had just turned 16 years old – did you expect to make the roster of DHK Latgale, who played in the Belarusian league, straight away?

– No, but prior 2008-09 I was coached by Jurijs Agureikins, who let me practice and play together with one up to three years older players than myself, which I am truly thankful to him.

How did you feel, when, being 16 years old, you started playing among professionals?

– Straight away I felt the difference between junior and professional hockey. Still, at least in my opinion, I got used to the professional hockey pretty fast, as my teammates helped me a lot, often saying what I ought to do in different situations.

What relationship do you have with Vitalijs Hvorostinins? [Hvorostinins also comes from Preili and now plays for Val-d’Ior Foreurs in the QMJHL]

– Well, I could say that he is my best friend – we grew up together and for a longer time played together. Also now we regularly talk to each other on Skype, encouraging one another and that really helps, when you don’t see your friends too often.

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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.

Three locals at a Kazakh club camp in Latvia

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Latvians Martins Raitums, Elvis Zelubovskis and Sergejs Tjoluskins will take part in a pre-season training camp of Kazakh league club Beibarys Atyrau, which will take place in Latvia. It is expected that players might sign contracts by August 16, when the camp will end and the team will return to Kazakhstan.

Just recently Kazakh media announced that goaltender Martins Raitums is close to signing with another Kazakh club – Ertis Pavlodar, but already by then it was known, that Ertis is not the only Kazakh league club interested in Martins.

Zelubovskis spent majority of the previous season in Belarusian league club Gomel. By the European hockey trade deadline he was fired and joined HK Ozolnieki/Monarhs of Latvian league. 27-year-old Tjoluskins spent several past season with Metalurgs Liepaja.

Raitums likely to join Ertis Pavlodar

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Kazakh portal Ekspress K has announced that Kazakh league club Ertis Pavlodar is very close to signing Latvian goalkeeper Martins Raitums, who spent the previous season with Hull Stingrays of the Elite Ice Hockey League.

Martins has participated in four World Championships for Latvian national team and last year was the second goalie, changing Edgars Masalskis in the middle of 1-6 blowout against Canada.

During 2008/09 he played for ASK Ogre – one of the Latvian clubs in the Belarusian league, but last season he managed to join Hull Stingrays only by late January – just before the trade deadline.

Currently also several other Latvian players are in negotiations with Kazakh league clubs and might join them for the next season. According to an unexposable source, the salaries in Kazakhstan are way bigger than, for example, French Ligue Magnus.

Metalurgs Liepaja is ready to start

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It has been already some time, since the Latvian club Metalurgs Liepaja began their thirteenth pre-season camp. For the fifth time the team will play in the Belarusian league. After the current Latvian champion Dinamo Juniors Riga ceased their existence, Metalurgs will also take part in the Continental Cup.

The team is traditionally built around long-time Metalurgs veterans, such as Filimonovs, Zabotinskis, Feldmanis, Mamonovs. The team consists also of many younger players, who have learned the game of hockey in Liepaja. Besides Lithuanian Nerius Alisauskas and Russian Sergei Gubin, who have played in Liepaja for several years, this season the team also includes Lithuanian defender Arturas Katulis and two Ukrainians – Yuri Navarenko and Artem Gnidenko. All three have appeared in several Worlds Championships for their respective national teams.

Two players, who played for Metalurgs almost since the first day, Eduards Ivanovs and Juris Ozols after the previous season have decided to retire from hockey. Eduards Ivanovs already has been announced as one of the Metalurgs-2 Liepaja coaches for 2010/11.

Metalurgs Liepaja current roster:

G Dmitrijs Zabotinskis Latvia 1980
G Maris Jucers Latvia 1987
G Janis Kalnins Latvia 1991
G Nauris Grinvalds Latvia 1990
D Vents Feldmanis Latvia 1977
D Edmunds Kniksts Latvia 1982
D Renars Demiters Latvia 1986
D Nerius Alisauskas Lithuania 1991
D Glebs Rogoza Latvia 1991
D Karlis Liepins Latvia 1990
D Martins Gipters Latvia 1989
D Sergei Gubin Russia 1977
D Arturas Katulis Lithuania 1981
D Yuri Navarenko Ukraine 1979
F Valerijs Filimonovs Latvia 1979
F Vladimirs Mamonovs Latvia 1980
F Maris Gravitis Latvia 1981
F Edijs Brahmanis Latvia 1983
F Gunars Skvorcovs Latvia 1990
F Sergejs Danilovs Latvia 1989
F Vitalijs Pavlovs Latvia 1989
F Toms Zeltins Latvia 1986
F Aldis Abolins Latvia 1985
F Lauris Bajaruns Latvia 1989
F Arturs Mickevics Latvia 1991
F Edgars Brancis Latvia 1985
F Maris Dilevka Latvia 1992
F Artem Gnidenko Ukraine 1980

Supler makes the first cuts

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It has been two days, since the Dinamo Riga training camp took off, and the head coach Julius Supler has made his first cut, sending four players to the MHL club HK Riga and releasing another player completely.

The players sent down to HK Riga are defenders Eriks Sevcenko, Aleksandrs Galkins and Ricards Birzins, as well as forward Edgars Lipsbergs. Galkins played for HC Brest of Belarusian league last season, as well as for Keramin-2 Minsk of the Belarusian 2nd league, while the 21-year-old Birzins has been playing in the Dinamo system for the past two seasons already.

Supler also released 25-year-old forward Guntis Dzerins, who missed the whole previous season, because of health issues and was in the camp for a try-out. His younger brother Andris played 17 games for Dinamo last season and is expected to make the team also for 2010/11.

After showing himself at the Washington Capitals Development Camp, it has also been announced that defender Kristaps Sotnieks has arrived at the camp.

Macijevskis about to be signed by Zhlobin

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Latvian ice hockey forward Aleksandrs Macijevskis, who has spent the previous decade in Danish  ice hockey, is very close to signing a contract with Belarusian league club Metallurg Zhlobin.

Spending last ten years in Danish league, Macijevskis has lifted the Danish cup above his head three times, but during the past two seasons, playing in Sonderjyske, has also became a two-time Danish league champion.

35-year-old player will join Janis Straupe, who has already signed a contract with the club. Let me just remind you that last season there were three Latvian players in Zhlobin, but in both 2007-08 and 2008-09 the number of Latvian players in Zhlobin reached four. I already wrote that Viktors Blinovs, who was one of the Latvians in Metallurg last season, recently signed a contract with another Belarusian club – Shakhter Soligorsk.

Macijevskis has played in nine World Championships (of whom the last one was in 2008, in Halifax) for the Latvian national team, as well as 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic games.