latvia

It’s finally here. With the Olympics getting under way and the hockey starting soon, it’s time to roll out our preview of each team between now and puck drop. May the best team win.

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The basics

The Latvian national hockey team is ranked 11th by the IIHF. They’re carrying a single NHLer, are coached by Sabres’ coach Ted Nolan, and finished 12th at the 2010 Winter Olympics.latvia2

Member Since February 22, 1931
Total Players 4,569
Male Players 2,851
Junior Players 1,636
Female Players 82
Total Referees 183
Indoor Rinks 17
Outdoor Rinks 0
Nation Population 2,178,443
President Kirovs Lipmans
Men’s World Ranking 11
Women’s World Ranking 13

Group

C, with the Czech Republic, Sweden and Switzerland.

Roster

GOALTENDERS NHL Team
Kristers Gudlevskis
Edgars Masalskis
Ervins Mustukovs
DEFENSEMEN  
Oskars Bartulis
Ralfs Freibergs
Arturs Kulda
Sandis Ozolins
Georgijs Pujacs
Krisjanis Redihs
Arvids Rekis
Kristaps Sotnieks
FORWARDS  
Armands Berzins
Martins Cipulis
Lauris Darzins
Kaspars Daugavins
Zemgus Girgensons Buffalo Sabres
Miks Indrasis
Koba Jass
Martin Karsums
Ronalds Kenins
Vitalijs Pavlovs
Mikelis Redlihs
Janis Sprukts
Juris Stals
Herberts Vasiljevs

Biggest names

Zemgus Girgensons, Kaspars Daugavins, Oscars Bartulis, and ex-NHL star Sandis Ozolinsh. Remeber him from those great Avalance teams of like, 100 years ago? By the way, the total amount of names on this list, first and last, that don’t end with the letter “s” is three. It’s a nation of plural people. Nice to meet you, Ronalds.

Depth

That’s a negative, Ghost Rider.lat

Strengths

Those players mentioned in the “biggest names” section are all legit hockey players. Ted Nolan is a legit coach. But the Latvian’s draw unfortunately left them without anyone on their level. They’re in tough against Sweden, the Czech Republic and Switzerland.

Weaknesses

They lack goal scorers. And defense. And maybe goaltending. Kristers Gudlevskis has started 22 games in the American League, so he’s not terrible, but there’s some pretty decent players in this tourney.

Route to the Olympics

Rob the Hockey Guy explains here:

The top nine countries in the IIHF world rankings automatically qualify for the Olympics and Latvia wasn’t one of those countries. That meant they needed to win their qualifying group, which they did, finishing ahead of Kazakhstan, France and Great Britain. Latvia overcame a 2-0 deficit to France in their final game to force overtime and earn the single point needed to win their group.The tournament was played in Riga, Latvia in front of 10,000 loud Latvian fans.

(Check out Rob at VanCityBuzz)

Prediction

I’ve got them finishing 10th. Definitely in the class of “proud to be there” teams.

Schedule

Times are GMT+4, (MSK – Moscow Standard Time)

Wednesday February 12th: LATLatvia 21:00 SwitzerlandSUI
Friday February 14th: CZECzech Republic 12:00 LatviaLAT
Saturday February 15th: SWESweden 21:00 LatviaLAT

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Other Previews

Canada

Sweden

USA

Russia

Finland

Czech Republic

Slovakia

Switzerland

Norway

Austria

Slovenia