Latvian Hockey News Report

By Didzis Rudmanis

Posts Tagged ‘U18 IIHF World Championship

Three Latvians drafted in the CHL Import Draft (updated)

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Today Latvian forwards Kristians Pelss, who was drafted into the NHL by Edmonton Oilers three days ago, and Vitalijs Hvorostinins, as well as defender Ricards Berzins(Richards Berzins), were drafted during the CHL Import Draft. Pelss was picked by the Edmonton Oil Kings of WHL #19 overall, while Hvorostinins was selected by Val-d’Or Foreurs #30 overall, but Berzins was picked by Owen Sound Attack #58 overall.

Let me just remind you that last season Pelss played for the Dinamo-Juniors Riga in the Belarusian league. Pelss, who learned the game of hockey in Daugavpils, scored nine points in 48 games last season. He also played in the U18 IIHF World Championship in Minsk, where was one of the Latvian national team leaders, although managed to score only two goals.

Vitalijs Hvorostinins, just like Pelss, learned the game of hockey in Daugavpils and, instead of Pelss, Hvorostinins played in local DHK Latgale last season, scoring 23 (9+14) points in 30 games. He also played several games for the Daugavpils U18 team.

Ricards Berzins spent previous season with HS Prizma/Pardaugava 92 in the Latvian U18 league and did not make the Latvian U18 national team. In 2008-09 he also played 20 games for Latvian league club HS Prizma/Hanza Riga. Before this draft, his name was rather unfamiliar around the Latvian hockey community.

The highest-ever drafted Latvian player in the CHL Import Draft was Agris Saviels, who was the number one draft pick in 1999. He was picked by Owen Sound Attack. In a more recent history, Kaspars Daugavins was the third overall pick in 2006. He was chosen by Toronto St. Michael’s Majors of OHL. Last year Daugavins made his debut in the NHL, playing a single game for the Ottawa Senators.

Oilers pick Pelss

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After three “empty” draft years for the currently 12th highest ranked country in the IIHF rankings, 1992-born forward Kristians Pelss has been selected by Edmonton Oilers #181 overall. Last season Pelss played for the Dinamo-Juniors Riga.

Pelss, who learned the game of hockey in Daugavpils, scored nine points in 48 games last season. He also played in the U18 IIHF World Championship in Minsk, where was one of the Latvian national team leaders, although managed to score only two goals.

Pelss is not the first Latvian player drafted by Edmonton Oilers – in 1993 Oilers picked Aleksandrs Kercs, who then played five games for the club in 1993-94.

Latvian players had not been drafted in the National Hockey League since 2006, when Senators chose Kaspars Daugavins, but Thrashers picked Arturs Kulda. Both made their debuts in the league last season.

Latvian hockey community does not expect another three years to pass, until the next Latvian is selected during the NHL Entry Draft, because 1994-born center forward Zemgus Girgensons, according to some North American draft analysts, is believed to be picked during the first or second round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Being 16 years old, he also played at the U18 World Championship in Minsk.

Another perspective 1994-born player is defender Kristaps Bazevics, who will play for AIK J18 in the Swedish U18 Elite league next season. He will turn 16 only in August.