Latvian Hockey News Report

By Didzis Rudmanis

Posts Tagged ‘Chris Holt

Coyotes clinch victory in Riga

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This evening Arena Riga, packed with both fans and journalists from all over the world, hosted the third-ever KHL-NHL game, in which Phoenix Coyotes, without putting much too effort in it, won Dinamo Riga 3:1. The only one to score for Dinamo was Mark Hartigan.

Already since the very first minutes of the game Coyotes had the edge of the game on their side. During the first ten minutes Riga managed to take only one shot on Bryzgalov’s net, but Coyotes managed to turn their dominance into a goal only late in the period, when Taylor Pyatt scored after a rebound from Tellqvist’s pads.

Although also during the beginning of the second period Coyotes still maintained the puck and produced goal-scoring chances, it was the Dinamo Riga, who scored. Right after both team swapped goalies, Brock Trotter set up a goal for Mark Hartigan, who defeated Jason LaBarbera. However, late in the period Petr Prucha regained the lead, scoring the second goal for Phoenix.

During the third period nothing much changed and Dinamo was still clearly outbeaten, the defense of Dinamo was slowly falling apart, which gave an opportunity for Lee Stempniak to score the third goal of the game. If it was not for Chris Holt, who received the game-MVP award, the result could have become embarassing.

This was already the tenth Dinamo Riga game against NHL clubs, as Riga played in several Soviet-NHL series in the 1980’s. Phoenix was the first club in Riga since Montreal Canadiens, who played in Latvia already twenty years ago.

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.

A shootout loss for Dinamo

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This evening Dinamo Riga played its second exhibition game before the start of 2010/11 KHL season. The game was held in Tukums and Dinamo lost 2:3 to Amur Khabarovsk in the shootout.

Although Amur played a great first period, the visiting team, with Latvian Martins Cipulis on the roster, managed to put themselves up by two goals only in the middle of the second period. With 46 seconds in between, goals were scored by Canadian David Ling and Sergei Arekaev. However, eights second before the end of the period Aleksandrs Nizivijs scored a powerplay goal. In early third period Mark Hartigan scored the tying goal, which let the game go into a penalty shootout, where Amur was more successful, clinching their second victory in a row.

Dinamo Riga – Amur Khabarovsk 2:3 SO (0:0, 1:2, 1:0, 0:1)

Goals: 30:04 Ling (PP) 0:1, 30:50 Arekaev 0:2, 39:52 Nizivijs (Ozolins, PP) 1:2, 41:19 Hartigan (Cibulskis, Nizivijs) 2:2

Dinamo line-up:

Chris Holt (Edgars Lusins)

Lauris Darzins – Janis Sprukts – Mikelis Redlihs; Arvids Rekis – Krisjanis Redlihs

Tomas Surovy – Mark Hartigan – Aleksandrs Nizivijs; Sandis Ozolins – Oskars Cibulskis

Martins Karsums – Andris Dzerins – Girts Ankipans; Rodrigo Lavins – Guntis Galvins

Juraj Simek – Ainars Podzins – Roberts Bukarts; Jekabs Redlihs – Janis Andersons

After this game only two of the players with try-out contracts have not played as of yet. Those are 19-year-old defender Martins Jakovlevs, who most likely is going to spend the season with HK Riga, and forward Juris Stals. Although Mikael Tellqvist arrived to Riga yesterday, he, naturally, did not play just yet. Brock Trotter will land at Riga International Airport on Sunday.

The next exhibition game Dinamo Riga will play on August 10, when it will face Dynamo Minsk. It will be the first game of President of the Republic of Kazakhstan’s Cup in Astana, Kazakhstan. Beside Riga and Minsk, also Barys Astana and Atlant Mytischi will take part in the tournament.

Dinamo wins the first exhibition game

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On August 2 Dinamo Riga played it’s first exhibition game, beating Neftekhimik Niznekamsk 5:2. The game was held at the training facility Volvo sporta centrs, who has a registered capacity of 1500. Arena was overcrowded.

Four minutes before the end of the first period Meija had already his second great goal scoring opportunity, however his stick was lifted and the next two minutes Dinamo played on a powerplay, on which defender Oskars Cibulskis managed to score from the blue line. Just a moment later Neftekhimik players earned already the third penalty of the night, and Mark Hartigan scored just within ten seconds of the powerplay.

In a mid-second period Chris Holt, after his own mistake, was beaten by Sergei Konkov, as he managed to score after a great pass from Maksim Pestushko. Minutes later Neftekhimik changed Ivan Kasutin for Canadian Scott Munroe in the net. With seven minutes left in the period, Andris Dzerins had a breakaway, but Munroe stepped out of the net and cleared the puck. Late in the period, after a bad rebound by Munroe, Lauris Darzins managed to score another powerplay goal, but with just 28 seconds before the end of the period Mikelis Redlihs stepped into defense too late and, after a successful play, Sergei Konkov managed to score his second goal of the night.

Three minutes into the third period defender Oskars Cibulskis managed to score once again and make it 4:2 already. A while later Martins Karsums and Maxim Berezin exchanged a few punches, but once both of them had dropped their gloves, they were already separated by the linesmen. Minutes before the regulation, after a great pass from Aleksandrs Nizivijs, Slovak Tomas Surovy scored his first goal in Dinamo jersey. The game ended 5:2.

Dinamo Riga – Neftekhimik Niznekamsk 5:2 (2:0, 1:2, 2:0)

Goals: 1:0 17:56 Cibulskis (K.Redlihs, Darzins, PP), 2:0 18:46 Hartigan (Cibulskis, Nizivijs, PP), 2:1 27:02 Konkov (Pestushko, St.Pierre), 3:1 36:44 Darzins (M.Redlihs, K.Redlihs, PP), 3:2 39:32 Konkov (Pestushko, Arkhipov), 4:2 42:57 Cibulskis (Nizivijs, Hartigan, PP), 5:2 54:41 Surovy (Nizivijs, Hartigan)
Goalies: Holt – Kasutin (28:44 Munroe)

Chris Holt had a decent game. He managed to make a couple of great saves, however it was clear that he has not adjusted to the European-sized rinks just yet, as he was a little confused, when playing with the puck.

Among defencemen, Arvids Rekis was slower than expected and definitely will not start the season in the first defensive pair, like he did today. Eventhough Oskars Cibulskis managed to score two goals, he was clearly the slowest player on the ice. Although these two goals will definitely give him a certain edge over Janis Andersons in the fight for the seventh defender’s spot, I would still prefer Andersons, who showed a much better performance.

The forward, which had the biggest impact on me, was Gints Meija, who had not lost a tiny bit of the play he showed at the World Championships in May. He would definitely deserve a bigger ice-time, but, unfortunately, it does not seem that he will manage to earn a spot within first three lines. Still, Karsums – Trotter – Meija could make a solid third line. It also does not seem too realistic that Dinamo will sign a contract with Swede Kenneth Bergqvist, who is not as skilled to play anywhere above the fourth line. There is no point signing him, to let him play for Metalurgs Liepaja of the Belarussian league. (As HK Riga of MHL is an U21 team, Dinamo is likely to sign a contract with Metalurgs, that it would allow to let five players to play in Liepaja. However, Dinamo might not call up players, who have a contract with Metalurgs).

When I left the game, I was desperately searching for a reason, why Dinamo has signed try-out contract with players like Eriks Ozollapa, Juraj Simek, Juris Stals and others, if the first three lines at the exhibition games are formed from players, which do not need to worry about their spot on the roster.

Dinamo line-up at the game:

Lauris Darzins Janis Sprukts Mikelis Redlihs
Krisjanis Redlihs Arvids Rekis
Aleksandrs Nizivijs Mark Hartigan Tomas Surovy
Oskars Cibulskis Sandis Ozolins
Martins Karsums Andris Dzerins Girts Ankipans
Guntis Galvins Rodrigo Lavins
Kenneth Bergqvist Vitaly Karamnov Gints Meija
Janis Andersons Jekabs Redlihs

Dinamo Riga roster presented

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A week after the beginning of Dinamo Riga pre-season camp, the roster has been officially announced. However, not a single new player was announced.

Unlike players, who drove to Arena Riga with their cars, head coach Julius Supler arrived on a white horse and there was a reason for it – right before the end of the 2009/10 regular season Supler agreed to a dare with captain Sandis Ozolinsh. The dare was for Supler to ride a white horse around the Riga center, if the team reached Western Conference semifinals, which they eventually did, beating SKA St. Petersburg.

However, two players, which were previously listed with Dinamo Riga, were not announced during the roster presentation. For some obvious reasons, sixteen-year-old Ivars Punnenovs was not presented together with Dinamo Riga, eventhough he is currently training together with the team. The other player not presented was Russian Igor Biryukov. As there has been no official announcement regarding him, we can only guess, whether he is still with the team or not.

Meanwhile, players like Ronalds Cinks, Raimonds Vilkoits and Juris Upitis were announced during the HK Riga roster presentation, which might mean that they will not pursue their pre-season preparation together with Dinamo Riga, but, once again, no official confirmation for that.

Also, in an short interview, general manager Normunds Sejejs said that the roster is done and within the next week the latest additions to the team will be announced.

Dinamo Riga roster at the presentation:

G Chris Holt USA
G Edgars Lusins Latvia
D Janis Andersons Latvia
D Oskars Cibulskis Latvia
D Guntis Galvins Latvia
D Martins Jakovlevs Latvia
D Rodrigo Lavins Latvia
D Sandis Ozolins Latvia
D Jekabs Redlihs Latvia
D Krisjanis Redlihs Latvia
D Arvids Rekis Latvia
D Kristaps Sotnieks Latvia
F Girts Ankipans Latvia
F Kenneth Bergqvist Sweden Try-out
F Roberts Bukarts Latvia
F Lauris Darzins Latvia
F Andris Dzerins Latvia
F Mark Hartigan Canada
F Martins Karsums Latvia
F Vitaly Karamnov Russia Try-out
F Gints Meija Latvia
F Aleksandrs Nizivijs Latvia
F Eriks Ozollapa Latvia Try-out
F Sergejs Pecura Latvia Try-out
F Ainars Podzins Latvia Try-out
F Mikelis Redlihs Latvia
F Juraj Simek Switzerland Try-out
F Janis Sprukts Latvia
F Juris Stals Latvia Try-out
F Tomas Surovy Czech Rep.
F Brock Trotter USA

Trotter contract with Dinamo Riga confirmed

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Dinamo Riga official homepage has announced that the 23-year-old Montreal Canadiens prospect Brock Trotter has signed a contract with the club, so rumours that Trotter is moving to the Kontinental Hockey League comes true.

Although Dinamo announcement does not state, for how many seasons the contract is signed, most realistically it is just a one-year contract.

A few days ago, when the first rumours about Trotter moving to Riga appeared, several Canadian sources estimated that the contract could be worth up to 250,000 USD, which is four times more than he made in the AHL last season (plus the significant tax differences). For a comparison, legendary Sandis Ozolinsh contract, who might be the most heavy one for Dinamo Riga, is rumoured to be worth around 840,000 USD.

23-year-old forward became a restricted free agent on July 1, but apparently did not succeed coming to an agreement with the Canadiens.

Trotter has spent several past seasons in Hamilton Bulldogs of the AHL. In 2009/10 he posted 77 points in 75 regular season games, adding 19 points in 19 games during the playoffs. Last season he also made two Montreal Canadiens appearances.

Dinamo Riga pre-season camp began already on July 23 with team highlights of Chris Holt, Sandis Ozolinsh, Mark Hartigan, Tomas Surovy among others on the roster. Club’s general manager Normunds Sejejs is still desperately working on finding a starting goalie.

Dinamo reached Western Conference Semifinals last season, after eliminating SKA St. Petersburg in the Quarterfinals. The club then proceeded to lose to HC MVD, which became the Western Conference champion later on.

Trotter heading to Riga?

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Several Canadian internet sources have announced that the 23-year-old Montreal Canadiens prospect Brock Trotter has signed a one-year contract with Dinamo Riga of the Kontinental Hockey League.

It is estimated that the contract could be worth up to 250,000 USD, which is four times more than he made in the AHL last season (plus the significant tax differences). For a comparison, legendary Sandis Ozolinsh contract, who might be the most heavy one for Dinamo Riga, is rumoured to be worth around 840,000 USD.

23-year-old forward became a restricted free agent on July 1, but apparently did not succeed coming to an agreement with the Canadiens.

Trotter has spent several past seasons in Hamilton Bulldogs of the AHL. In 2009/10 he posted 77 points in 75 regular season games, adding 19 points in 19 games during the playoffs. Last season he also made two Montreal Canadiens appearances.

Dinamo Riga pre-season camp began already on July 23 with team highlights of Chris Holt, Sandis Ozolinsh, Mark Hartigan, Tomas Surovy and others on the roster. Club’s general manager Normunds Sejejs is still desperately working on finding a starting goalie.

Dinamo reached Western Conference Semifinals last season, after eliminating SKA St. Petersburg in the Quarterfinals. The club then proceeded to lose to HC MVD, which became the Western Conference champion later on.

Dinamo pre-season camp takes off

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It is July 23 and, according to the rules of the Kontinental Hockey League, teams are officially allowed to begin their pre-season training camps, despite the fact that most of players across the league have been doing individual coach assignments already for some time. Today also Dinamo Riga began their training camp, which takes place in Valmiera, Latvia.

39 players have began the camp and the first cuts are expected to be made already on July 25. Cuts will either play in HK Riga of the MHL or have to find another club, where to pursue their careers. The team will be in Valmiera for a week.

Although the general manager of the club Normunds Sejejs promised that the a signing of a team’s starting goalie will be announced by the beginning of camp, apparently, Sejejs has not managed to fill his promises. Currently on the camp there is also Ervins Mustukovs, who has already signed with Sheffield Steelers of Elite Ice Hockey League for 2010/11, as Steelers will begin their camp only later on.

Currently, for unknown reasons, 1990-born forwards Ronalds Cinks, who is said to have a contract with Dinamo for 2010/11, is not on the camp roster. There were rumours that also Armands Berzins mights join the team for a try-out. Also there is a possibility that Kristaps Sotnieks might join the camp, as he has returned from the Washington Capitals Development Camp.

The camp roster also came up with several players, who were almost forgotten in the Latvian ice hockey society – Guntis Dzerins, Eriks Ozollapa and Edgars Lipsbergs. Guntis Dzerins (older brother of Andris) missed whole 2009/10, because of an injury, previously playing two seasons fro MHC Martin of Slovakian Extraliga. Both Ozollapa and Lipsbergs spent some time studying in the USA. Also two Russian players – Vitaly Karamnov and Igor Biryukov – are taking part in the camp. Karamnov, 1989-born forward, scored 45 points in 42 games in the MHL last season, as well as made seven KHL appearances with the Dynamo Moscow.

Camp roster:

G Chris Holt 1985 USA 2011-12
G Edgars Lusins 1984 Latvia Try-out
G Ervins Mustukovs 1984 Latvia Steelers
G Ivars Punnenovs 1994 Latvia Junior
D Janis Andersons 1986 Latvia ?
D Oskars Cibulskis 1988 Latvia ?
D Guntis Galvins 1986 Latvia ?
D Rodrigo Lavins 1974 Latvia 2011-11
D Sandis Ozolins 1972 Latvia 2011-11
D Jekabs Redlihs 1982 Latvia 2011-11
D Krisjanis Redlihs 1981 Latvia ?
D Arvids Rekis 1979 Latvia 2011-11
D Ricards Birzins 1989 Latvia Junior
D Aleksandrs Galkins 1990 Latvia Junior
D Martins Jakovlevs 1991 Latvia Junior
D Eriks Sevcenko 1991 Latvia Junior
F Girts Ankipans 1975 Latvia ?
F Roberts Bukarts 1990 Latvia 2010-11
F Lauris Darzins 1985 Latvia ?
F Andris Dzerins 1988 Latvia 2010-11
F Mark Hartigan 1977 Canada 2010-11
F Martins Karsums 1986 Latvia 2011-12
F Gints Meija 1987 Latvia ?
F Aleksandrs Nizivijs 1976 Latvia 2010-11
F Mikelis Redlihs 1984 Latvia ?
F Janis Sprukts 1982 Latvia 2010-11
F Tomas Surovy 1981 Czech Rep. 2010-11
F Raimonds Vilkoits 1990 Latvia 2010-11
F Kenneth Bergqvist 1980 Sweden Try-out
F Igor Biryukov 1990 Russia Try-out
F Guntis Dzerins 1985 Latvia Try-out
F Vitaly Karamnov 1989 Russia Try-out
F Edgars Lipsbergs 1989 Latvia Junior
F Eriks Ozollapa 1987 Latvia Try-out
F Sergejs Pecura 1987 Latvia Try-out
F Ainars Podzins 1992 Latvia Junior
F Juraj Simek 1987 Switzerland Try-out
F Juris Stals 1982 Latvia Try-out
F Juris Upitis 1991 Latvia Junior

Foreigners arrive in Riga, coaching staff is announced

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On Monday American Chris Holt, who has a two year contract with Dinamo Riga, as well as Juraj Simek and Kenneth Bergqvist, who are in Riga for a try-out, have arrived, although the pre-season camp will begin only on July 23.

It is also finally revealed that there is, after all, no try-out contract signed with Bergqvist, however there is a mutual agreement that he will participate in the first part of the training camp, as well as play in a couple of exhibition games. If he would prove himself, a contract will be signed anyway.

After Slovakian Miroslav Miklosovic, who was an assistant coach alongside Artis Abols for Julius Supler for the past two seasons, has decided to continue his coaching career in Slovakia, there was a free vacancy, which is apparently going to be taken by Viktors Ignatjevs, long-time Latvian national team player, who has retired after playing in HYS The Hague last season. He played only in five World Championships, although he could have played also in both 2006 and 2007, but was injured during the training camp both times.

Also the coaching staff of HK Riga has been announced. The head coach will be Leonids Tambijevs, who coached SK Riga/Profs-18 of Latvian league last season. One of his assistant coaches will be Andrejs Banada, who worked with Tambijevs also last season, but the other assistant coach will be Aigars Cipruss, who worked with Dinamo Riga farm club also last season.

Masalskis signs with Yugra

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Latvian goaltender Edgars Masalskis, who spent previous season in Dinamo Riga and is a part of Latvian national team, has signed a one year contract with Yugra Khanty-Mansiysk of the Kontinental Hockey League.

Already once the season ended, a lot of rumours regarding Masalskis future plans arised, the most popular ones including destinations of Spartak Moscow and Ak Bars Kazan. However, approximately two weeks ago there were rumours that he had signed with Budivelnyk Kiev(which withdrew from the KHL due to problems with arena less than a week ago).

Dinamo Riga GM Normunds Sejejs had said that both sides had tough time negotiating, so it ended without any beneficial results. Instead, Dinamo Riga signed Chris Holt and said to have a mutual agreement with Henrik Karlsson. As I already reported some days ago, Karlsson will not play in Riga, hoping of making the second goalie position in Calgary.

When Dinamo Riga was established in 2008, Masalskis signed a contract with the club and played eight spectacular games. Unfortunately, in October, after a team’s dinner in Old Riga, being drunk, he got into a brawl, where broke his ankle and so was fired from the club. When he finally healed his injury, he joined Fuchse Duisburg of DEL as a place, where to finish the season.

Prior 2009-10, Masalskis signed a new contract with Dinamo Riga and played a great season, allowing the team to beat respectable SKA St. Petersburg in the first round of Gagarin Cup Playoffs. SKA had such stars as Esche, Zubov, Cajanek, Sushinsky, Yashin on their roster. SKA St. Petersburg finished first in the Western Conference in the regular season.

Masalskis is the fourth import player signed by Yugra. The club has also signed contracts with Swedish defenseman Tommy Wargh and Slovak forwards Vladimir Dravecky and Marek Zagrapan.