Latvian Hockey News Report

By Didzis Rudmanis

Posts Tagged ‘Mark Hartigan

Podzins: Is there a reason to be nervous about?

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In an interview to, Ainars Podzins, who was drafted by Dinamo Riga this summer, thus moving back from Russia to his native Latvia, talks about his time in Riga, about playing for Dinamo and his first game in the KHL. We now present you a fragment of the interview, kindly translated by Alessandro Seren Rosso.

Were you nervous before your first KHL game?

Podzins: “Well, is there a reason to be nervous about? I was brought as the thirteenth forward. I was just watching the game. Though I wasn’t nervous when, during the game against Neftekhimik, they said me: ‘Podzins, get ready, it’s your turn.’ We were winning 6-3. And I got to play two shifts. I am really satisfied about them. I had a shot, I gave a pass, and I played only two minutes. They iced me in the first line with [Mark] Hartigan and [Tomas] Surovy, at [Aleksandrs] Nizivijs’ place. The greatest thing was that they congratulated me more than Karsums, who scored two goals in two games. I could think I won the Olympic Games. I got to the bench and looked at our masseur, and he says ‘Podzins, you did that?’ And everyone from the team congratulated, ‘Bravo Podzins, well done’.”

You’ve got some interesting nicknames.

Podzins: “Yes, they call me ‘Poga’ [meaning a ‘button’ in Latvian], which is similar to my surname. But the most popular is ‘Stallone’, [Vitaly] Karamnov called me that way when he saw me without a jersey for the first time. I’m not that big, but I am well-built.”

Next to whom do you sit in the locker room?

Podzins: “I sit next to veterans, next to [Girts] Ankipans, not far from Nizivijs.

Do you talk more with the younger players?

Podzins: “Oddly enough I don’t. I mostly talk with veterans, especially with Ankipans, we sit next each other. I also try to talk with foreigners, but my English is very bad.”

But do you talk with them?

Podzins: “Yeah, I think [Mark] Hartigan already grow tired of me.”

How come?

Podzins: “For some time we were living at the same hotel, and I didn’t know when we had the practice. So I went to his room, and I saw that he was sleeping. So I excused myself and asked, and he said: ‘in two hours’, then he shut the door. Then later a foreigner asked him: ‘Mark, how did you sleep?’ And he replied: ‘Good, until I was awakened’.”

How do you like Riga?

Podzins: “It’s astounding! In Latvia they love hockey. Can you imagine that someone would ask me an autograph after a game? But if [former NHL star Sandis] Ozolins or Nizivijs arrive, then 30-40 persons would arrive in no time, and they can’t literally get out. They have crazy fans.”

Where do you live?

Podzins: “I live in an apartment in Piņķi at the second floor. At the first floor live other two guys from HK Riga, Martins Jakovlevs and Eriks Sevcenko. Everything is at high level. I can get to the practices on feet and they always bring me to the games.”

Did you have any problems with the language?

Podzins: “It was strange at the start. I went to the locker room and everyone was talking in Latvian. Now I’m used to it. Everyone talks to me in Russian. Practices in both the main team and in the junior teams are run in Russian language. But if I sit with other five Latvians, they talk in their own language. And I literally know only a couple of words.”

Will you learn the language?

Podzins: “I’ve already promised that to the fans! But now I have no time, I’m always playing. It would be easier if everyone would talk to me in Latvian, I’d quickly learn many words.”

You dreamed for the whole life to play for Dinamo. And now you play for them. Is it like you

Podzins: “It’s even better! I’m happy because my dream came true. In spite, I’m the youngest player of the team everyone treats me very well. They take care about everything and you only have to play. The coaches and the players, in both first and junior team, make everything possible so that you can really develop and I’m very grateful for this.”

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.

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

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.

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