Rob The Hockey Guy

// A Vancouver Canucks Hockey Blog

Sochi 2014 Olympic Hockey Preview: Team Latvia

Image Courtesy: thehockeyhouse.net

Image Courtesy: thehockeyhouse.net

I wasn’t planning on doing a preview for Latvia, Norway, Austria or Slovenia (aka the other guys), but I’ve had a change of heart. Sure, only the top eight countries are likely to be a factor in the Olympic tournament, but anything is possible. Nobody thought that Belarus had a chance to beat anyone in 2002, but they upset Sweden in the quarterfinals. Nobody thought that Switzerland would steal a point against Canada in 2010 either (Canada’s trouble with the Swiss set-up a much tougher matchup against Russia in the quarterfinals). So lets take a look at the other guys!

Perhaps no country in the world has so many wildly passionate fans as Latvia. Ice hockey is wildly popular in the tiny former Soviet country of about two million people. Their fans seem to be a presence at every tournament and I’m sure Sochi will be no exception.

Round robin opponents

Latvia will compete in Group C with Sweden, Czech Republic and Switzerland.

How they got 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 lead 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.

Notable players

Latvia has only one player currently playing in the NHL, rookie centre Zemgus Girgensons of the Buffalo Sabres. They will also be with former NHL defenceman, Sandis Ozolinsh, who captained Latvia at the qualifying tournament. Former NHLers Oskars Bartulis and Kaspars Daugavins will also likely be part of the team.

You may also recognize Latvia’s head coach, Ted Nolan of the Buffalo Sabres. Nolan has been the head coach of Latvia’s national team since August 2011 and will be behind the bench in Sochi.

Outlook

Latvia is not going to a contender at the 2014 Olympics. They will be in tough to win a game in the round robin. If they don’t, that will set-up a very difficult matchup in the qualification round against one of the world powers. If they can get a win over Switzerland in the round robin, that may set-up an easier matchup in the qualification round and perhaps give them a chance at a berth in the quarterfinals.

The real accomplishment for Latvia was qualifying for the Olympics in the first place and I’m sure Latvians everywhere will be proud no matter how they do.

Other Roster Previews:

November 11: Russia

November 12: USA

November 13: Sweden

November 14: Czech Republic

November 18: Slovakia

November 19: Switzerland

November 20: Finland

November 21: Canada

November 26: Latvia

November 28: Austria

December 2: Norway

December 3: Slovenia

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10 Response to Sochi 2014 Olympic Hockey Preview: Team Latvia

  1. hhhhhh on November 27, 2013

    And We have the best goalie Kristers Gudlevskis… :))) hihihi

    Reply
  2. RobTheHockeyGuy on November 27, 2013

    is he the next Arturs Irbe??

    Reply
  3. hey on November 28, 2013

    I hope so.

    Reply
  4. Kurt on January 18, 2014

    "Team A has 13 NHL players, while Team B has 8 NHL players. Therefore, Team A will beat Team B by a score of 13 to 8."

    – Every North American hockey writer's preview of every international tournament

    Maybe we should just count up the NHL players on each roster before any international tournament, and go ahead and award medals on that basis so the players don't even have to play. Heck, the US & Canadian teams, being all NHL players, might actual medal at the World Championships a little more often instead of losing to those clearly inferior KHL guys.

    Reply
  5. Blog Commenting on June 25, 2014

    Mankind can not live without faith and love. This is exactly what makes commit insane acts.

    Reply
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