Latvian Hockey News Report

By Didzis Rudmanis

Posts Tagged ‘Ricards Birzins

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.

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.

Latvians in Kazakhstan: statistics

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As Kazakhstan is a country far, far away, the information about the three Latvians playing for Beibarys Atyrau is usually far from being easily found, however recently some team statistics were released, making it possible for us to evaluate Latvian performance so far.

GP GAA SVS% TOI
G 33 Martins Raitums 16 1.54 94.17 974.28

Martins Raitums, who was presented in summer as one of the biggest names to join the Kazakh league so far, is currently the starting goalie of Beibarys. Still, the second goalie Vadim Seliverstov has played a solid amount (14) of games too. And, no matter in how competitive league a goalie is playing, a SVS% of 94.17 is still a very respectable figure.

GP G A P PIM +/-
D 29 Kaspars Astasenko 14 1 1 2 24 -1

The 35-year-old Latvian defender was released from the club already more than a week ago. His return to the professional ice hockey, after not playing for the whole 2009-10, didn’t turn out as successfully as he might have wished. Earlier in the season he did not play at all, in order to regain his form, however after 14 games played he was released from the club. It is said that the reason behind it was Astasenko’s lack of attitude.

GP G A P PIM +/-
D 10 Ricards Birzins 10 0 0 0 6 +1

Latvian defender Birzins, who played for Dinamo Riga farm club last season, has found himself dressed for only 10 out of 30 Beibarys games so far and he is one of seven Beibarys defender with a positive +/-. This season there have been a total of 13 defenders playing for Beibarys.

GP G A P PIM +/-
F 21 Andrejs Smirnovs 22 2 7 9 36 +3

27-year-old Andrejs Smirnovs is a regular player on Beibarys roster, and on the team’s top scoring list he is ninth. The team’s top scorer currently is Andrei Pelevin with 27 points.

Beibarys signs also Astasenko

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Kazakh league club Beibarys Atyrau next year will have the most Latvians at once out of any other foreign hockey club, as, after coming to an agreement with three Latvians, now also 35-year-old Kaspars Astasenko has signed a contract, reports Baltic Sport Agency.

Latvian defender, who has played 23 games for the Tampa Bay Lightning, has joined Beibarys after not playing the whole previous season. Between 2007 and 2009 Kaspars played in Italian league club Ritten/Renon.

Let me just remind you that during the recent pre-season, Beibarys scheduled a camp in Latvia, inviting five Latvian players to it. Later on, it chose to sign Martins Raitums, Andrejs Smirnovs and Ricards Birzins. However, none of the Latvians have joined Beibarys as of yet, as they were gaining Kazakh visa and, finally, will leave Latvia on September 13.

Atyrau remains unapproachable

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It has been two weeks, since the Beibarys Atyrau camp in Latvia ended and four(not three!) of the Latvian players, who were in the camp, were about to be signed. However, contracts would be signed only once they arrived in Kazakhstan. That has not happened as of yet, while all four players are still waiting for a visa.

Let me remind you that there were five players in the club for a try-out – Martins Raitums, Sergejs Tjoluskins, Ricards Birzins, Andrejs Smirnovs and Elvis Zelubovskis. Although it was previously announced that only Raitums, Birzins and Smirnovs had impressed coaches enough to be signed, also Sergejs Tjoluskins is currently waiting for a visa, in order to get on a flight to Kazakhstan.

The only Latvian player cut, Elvis Zelubovskis, just days after the camp ended joined Vastervik IK of the Swedish Division 1. For a try-out…

Beibarys willing to sign three Latvians

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Yesterday, on August 16, the Kazakh league club Beibarys Atyrau pre-season camp finished and out of the five Latvians, who joined the camp for a try-out, three of them received a contract offer, reports icebox.lv.

The three players, who have received a contract offer, are goalie Martins Raitums, defenceman Ricards Birzins and forward Andrejs Smirnovs. However, Elvis Zelubovskis did not impress the coaching staff of Beibarys enough to sign a contract with the club, while Sergejs Tjoluskins was not eager to wait for the Kazakh visa so long.

Before the Beibarys camp had started, Kazakh media announced that goaltender Martins Raitums was 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. At this point it is not certain, where exactly will Martins spend the next season.

During the training camp Beibarys played several exhibition games against Latvian clubs – they won HK Riga 3:2, and played two games also against Metalurgs Liepaja – 0:2 and 4:2.

Another two Latvians join Beibarys

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Kazakh club Beibarys Atyrau, who is still continuing their pre-season camp in Latvia, has been joined by another two Latvian players – Ricards Birzins and Andrejs Smirnovs, reports their representative – Baltic Sport Agency.

They are joining three Latvians, who are already in the camp – Martins Raitums, Elvis Zelubovskis and Sergejs Tjoluskins. It is expected that players might sign contracts by August 16, when the camp will end and the team will return to Kazakhstan.

This week the team will play three friendlies – today, on August 11, they will face Metalurgs Liepaja, on August 13 they will match-up HK Riga, but the next day they will once again play against Metalurgs.