Latvian Hockey News Report

By Didzis Rudmanis

Posts Tagged ‘Latvian league

Does Latvian championship even matter to the federation?

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(written by Ivars Zvirgzdiņš and originally published on Sportacentrs.com)

Shortly before the start of the 2012/13 season, Latvian hockey federation has published calendar for the upcoming season of the Latvian league. After a thorough exploration, myself being a mundane Latvian hockey follower, I was struck with dozens of questions and thoughts regarding the current state of Latvian hockey.

The first and most important question is in whose interests was the new calendar created. Much time isn’t needed to find an answer to it – already last year both Prizma Riga and Juniors Riga had problems with starting both in MHL B and Latvian league. Several of Juniors Riga games were rescheduled and there were others problems with Juniors’ participation in the league as well. For example, the federation seemed to not notice Juniors Riga decision of ignoring a few regular season games versus Lithuanian Energija Elektrenai, despite the fact that the club didn’t have MHL B games at that time. In the upcoming season Metalurgs Liepaja-2 will become already the third club that will play in both MHL B and Latvian league.

But let’s return our attention to the calendar of the next season! First of all, this year there will be eight teams participating in the league (there were 10 teams last year). This season SK LSPA/Riga has decided to drop out of the tournament and at this point also Energija Elektrenai isn’t among the competitors of the league.

Only eight teams participating in the tournament is nothing new or tragic, as the league has experienced already several such seasons in the past. The unfortunate part of the story begins, when we count the number of games each team will play – there are going to be a total of 112 regular seasons games, meaning only 28 matches for each of the teams. Also the playoff stage will start only with the semifinals (instead of six teams fighting for the title in the previous years). For a comparison, the newly established Latvian Enthusiast league (an amateur one) each team is planned to have 19 games and playoffs starting from the quarterfinal stage. Continuing our comparison, both EBEL and Belarusian league has more than 50 games in their regular season.

The motivation of decreasing the game pressure on the three teams participating in MHL B is apparent, but immediately another question arises – does the effort of growing our upcoming junior generation in the Russian hockey system leave the other Latvian players, who are already past their junior age, without a chance of playing a proper amount of games during the season? We have plenty of examples of players showing what they are really capable of when they have already reached 25 years or even older. There must be certain circumstances under which such players could develop, and one of them is a chance of playing a decent number of games. Could 28 games per season be considered a decent number or do we once again have to rely on Russia or some other European country on the development of Latvian players?

The number of Latvian hockey talents is far from being rich, thus we have to be able of acknowledging them and offering them a chance of proper development. Still, we also have to point out that a notable proportion of the younger players don’t even wait until they reach 20 years and become useless to the Latvian hockey scene – many players opt to play abroad starting from a very early age. Who can even estimate how many talented players Latvian hockey has lost in such a way?

Returning to the issue of the participation of the Lithuanian team Energija Elektrenai, we must conclude that there is no consensus reached yet, as clearly it is a clash of two different interest groups. Already prior the previous season team’s participation in the league wasn’t clear until the very last minute, and the situation seems to be same now as well. Although Latvian federation hasn’t confirmed Energija’s participation, in Lithuanian press the executive members of the team are telling about team’s intentions of renovating the Elektrenai ice rink and club’s readiness of competing in the Latvian league. It seems that, in the name of the three teams participating in MHL B, Latvian federation is ready to give up our years long cooperation with the Lithuanian team. It is quite odd, as Latvian federation expects a helpful hand from other countries, yet we are not willing to help the development of hockey in other countries.

To sum up, there is only one real conclusion – dear Mr. Lipmans (head of Latvian federation) and the owners of the Latvian teams, perhaps the time has come to cease imitating activity and start working on the development of the league? A development, whose aim would be clear to the Latvian hockey fans and most likely to the Latvian hockey federation as well.

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Written by Didzis Rudmanis

September 3, 2012 at 20:42

Hvorostinins and Birzins return to Latvia

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Latvian hockey players forward Vitalijs Hvorostinins and defender Ricards Birzins have left their clubs and returned to Latvia. While Hvorostinins played for the Val-d’Ior Foreurs of the QMJHL, Birzins spent the larger part of the season with Beibarys Atyrau of the Kazakh league.

18-year-old Hvorostinins who was picked this summer by Foreurs during the 2010 CHL Import Draft has returned to Latvia, rejoining DHK Latgale of the Latvian league, and playing already his first game with the club. Hvorostinins already played for DHK Latgale last season. For a longer period of time Hvorostinins was injured, managing to play only three games for the Val-d’Ior Foreurs, however he did not manage to earn a single point.

In the same time, defender Ricards Birzins has decided to leave Beibarys Atyrau. As of mid-December (latest statistics I got hold of) Birzins had been dressed only for 10 out of 30 games played at that moment. The lack of trust from the coaching staff must have been the main reason why Birzins has left the club. Ricards has now returned to Riga. As January 31 which is the trade deadline for majority of leagues in Europe is drawing closer and closer, hopefully Ricards will manage to find a new club.

Gomel signs Tribuncovs

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Despite the Kazakh federation’s report that 34-year-old Latvian defender Atvars Tribuncovs has joined Beibarys Atyrau of the Kazakh league, he has signed a contract with Belarussian Extraleague club HC Gomel till the end of this season.

Still, there was some truth about the report – Tribuncovs indeed was willing to join Beibarys, but for some unknown reason it did not work out, and he never arrived at Atyrau. Instead, he joined HC Gomel, having a fantastic debut – in his first game with the club Tribuncovs posted a goal and added two assists.

In the past the 34-year-old defender has played for many seasons in such leagues as Russian Super League, Swedish Elitserien, DEL. He spent also majority of 2008-09 with Dinamo Riga of the KHL. In 2009-10 he played for HC Karlovy Vary of the Czech Extraleague. However, late in the season he was loaned to a Czech 2nd league club and failed to sign a contract during the summer. Before joining HC Gomel, Tribuncovs played several games for HK SMScredit.lv of the Latvian league.

Tribuncovs and Tjoluskins join Beibarys

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Just several days after Kaspars Astasenko was released from Kazakh league club Beibarys Atyrau, the number of Latvians in the club has been increased to five, with the signing of defenders Atvars Tribuncovs and Sergejs Tjoluskins, reports Kazakh federation’s homepage.

After failing to make the Beibarys Atyrau roster, 27-year-old Latvian Sergejs Tjoluskins signed with Lindlovens IF of the Swedish Division 1, where he played 22 games. Atvars Tribuncovs, however, began the season with HK SMS Credit of the Latvian league. 34-year-old defender in the past has played several seasons in such leagues as Russian Super League, Swedish Elitserien, DEL. He spent also majority of 2008-09 with Dinamo Riga of the KHL.

The very first news on Latvians joining Beibarys appeared in August, when Beibarys held their pre-season camp in Latvia and three Latvians joined the club for a try-out. A little while later another two Latvians joined the camp, but at the end of the camp only Raitums, Birzins and Smirnovs were signed, leaving Elvis Zelubovskis and Sergejs Tjoluskins without a contract. Later on also Kaspars Astasenko joined Beibarys, however he was released from the club after playing 14 games.

Latvian U20 set for World Juniors

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Yesterday Latvian U20 national team head coach Leonids Beresnevs announced those 22 players, who will set off for Babruisk, Belarus already tomorrow morning, in order to begin the tournament on December 13 and eventually try to return to the Elite Division for next year.

In order to do that, Latvian team will have to beat not only Japanese, Italian, Great Britain and Ukrainian teams, but also its main rivals for the victory in the tournament – Belarussian team, who will host the tournament. Belarussian team this year consists of many already professional players, of whom majority play in the Belarussian league. In combination with the home ice advantage, Belarussians have slightly higher chances of winning the tournament.

Unfortunately, two potential Latvian team participants withdrew from the pre-tournament training camp, as they got injured. Both of them would most likely made the roster – first one of the is HK Riga players Vladislavs Dobrenkijs, but the second one – Rolands Vigners who plays for Reims of the French Division 1 and did magnificently well during the both exhibition tournaments earlier this season.

Yesterday, during the press conference assistant coach Aigars Cipruss also commented that during this season Kristians Pelss (Edmonton Oil Kings) game has improved a lot, and that he has already benefited from crossing the pond last summer.

Tournament schedule:

December 13 Great Britain
December 14 Ukraine
December 16 Japan
December 17 Italy
December 19 Belarus*

*- the game starts at 17:00 GMT and will be broadcasted by LTV7, so there is a slight chance that the game could be streamed somewhere.

Latvian U20 roster:

G Kristers Gudlevskis 1992 HK Riga MHL
G Janis Kalnins 1991 Metalurgs Liepaja-2 Latvia
D Edgars Dikis 1991 HK Riga MHL
D Ralfs Freibergs 1991 Texas Tornado NAHL
D Martins Jakovlevs 1991 HK Riga MHL
D Karlis Kalvitis 1991 HK Riga MHL
D Martins Porejs 1991 HK Riga MHL
D Arturs Salija 1992 HK Riga MHL
D Eriks Sevcenko 1991 HK Riga MHL
D Raimonds Tubelis 1991 Metalurgs Liepaja-2 Latvia
F Maris Bicevskis 1991 HK Riga MHL
F Elvijs Biezais 1991 HK Riga MHL
F Maris Dilevka 1992 Metalurgs Liepaja Belarus
F Zemgus Girgensons 1994 Dubuque Fighting Saints USHL
F Girts Jansons 1991 Muik Hockey Finland4
F Egils Kalns 1991 Metalurgs Liepaja Belarus
F Ronalds Kenins 1991 GC Kusnacht Lions NLB
F Arturs Mickevics 1991 HK Riga MHL
F Kristians Pelss 1992 Edmonton Oil Kings WHL
F Davis Straupe 1992 HK Riga MHL
F Juris Upitis 1991 HK Riga MHL
F Bruno Zabis 1991 Metalurgs Liepaja-2 Latvia

Latvian U20 candidates announced

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Latvian U20 national team head coach Leonids Beresnevs has announced those 30 players, who will take part in the pre-World Junior Championship training camp in Jelgava from December 6 until December 11.

The final roster of the team will be announced on December 10. Already the next day the team will leave for Babruysk, Belarus, where on December 13 will play already against British U20 national team.

List of the candidates:

G Janis Auzins 1991 Zemgale Latvia
G Kristers Gudlevskis 1992 HK Riga MHL
G Janis Kalnins 1991 Metalurgs Liepaja-2 Latvia
D Reinis Demiters 1991 HK Riga MHL
D Edgars Dikis 1991 HK Riga MHL
D Kristers Freibergs 1992 Metalurgs Liepaja Belarus
D Ralfs Freibergs 1991 Texas Tornado NAHL
D Martins Jakovlevs 1991 HK Riga MHL
D Karlis Kalvitis 1991 HK Riga MHL
D Martins Porejs 1991 HK Riga MHL
D Arturs Salija 1992 HK Riga MHL
D Eriks Sevcenko 1991 HK Riga MHL
D Raimonds Tubelis 1991 Metalurgs Liepaja-2 Latvia
F Maris Bicevskis 1991 HK Riga MHL
F Elvijs Biezais 1991 HK Riga MHL
F Maris Dilevka 1992 Metalurgs Liepaja Belarus
F Vladislavs Dobrenkijs 1991 HK Riga MHL
F Maksims Firsovs 1991 SK LSPA/Riga Latvia
F Zemgus Girgensons 1994 Dubuque Fighting Saints USHL
F Girts Jansons 1991 Muik Hockey Finland4
F Egils Kalns 1991 Metalurgs Liepaja Belarus
F Ronalds Kenins 1991 GC Kusnacht Lions NLB
F Edgars Kurmis 1993 HK Riga MHL
F Arturs Mickevics 1991 HK Riga MHL
F Kristians Pelss 1992 Edmonton Oil Kings WHL
F Nils Semjonovs 1991 Aberdeen Wings NAHL
F Davis Straupe 1992 HK Riga MHL
F Juris Upitis 1991 HK Riga MHL
F Rolands Vigners 1991 Reims French Division 1
F Bruno Zabis 1991 Metalurgs Liepaja Belarus

Neftekhimik signs Maris Jass

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Kontinental Hockey League club Neftekhimik Niznekamsk has signed 25-year-old Latvian defender Maris Jass, who played for HK 36 Skalica of the Slovakian Extraleague.

After the previous season, when Neftekhimik finished fourth in the Eastern Conference, the team is currently struggling to maintain its place in the play-off zone, as it is currently placed eight with 35 points in 24 games. The head coach Vladimir Krikunov, who played for Dinamo Riga in the 1980’s, decided that a change was desirable – as Jass was signed, Neftekhimik released Slovakian defender Peter Mikus from the team.

Maris Jass has already previously played in Russia – in 2005-06, when the KHL was not yet established, he played 14 games for Lada Togliatti. For the most of his career Jass played for Metalurgs Liepaja – a Latvian club, which had and has been playing in the Eastern European Hockey League (folded in 2004), as well as both Belarussian Extraleague and Latvian league. He has also played for HC Slavia Praha of the Czech Extraleague, however since the beginning of 2009-10 he was playing in the Slovak Extraleague.

He has also appeared on international stage, playing for the Latvian national team at the 2006 and 2010 World Championships, as well as two U20 and one U18 Championship.