2014 Men’s Olympic Hockey Preview: 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.
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.
|Member Since||February 22, 1931|
|Men’s World Ranking||11|
|Women’s World Ranking||13|
C, with the Czech Republic, Sweden and Switzerland.
|Zemgus Girgensons||Buffalo Sabres|
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.
That’s a negative, Ghost Rider.
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.
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
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.
I’ve got them finishing 10th. Definitely in the class of “proud to be there” teams.
Times are GMT+4, (MSK – Moscow Standard Time)