Aivis Kalnins Aivis Kalnins
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On Monday head coach of the Latvian national team - Harijs Vitolins addressed the media and announced the 25 players that would be heading to the Olympic hockey tournament.

The roster itself includes eight Dinamo Riga players - Oskars Cibulskis, Ralfs Freibergs, Kristaps Zile, Karlis Cukste, Patriks Ozols, Lauris Darzins, Martins Karsums and Nikolajs Jelisejevs. Meanwhile, KHL is also represented by HC Sochi defenseman Janis Jaks as well as Admiral forwards Rihards Bukarts and Miks Indrasis.

Two of them will make their team Latvia debuts on the biggest stage possible - Patriks Ozols and Nikolajs Jelisejevs are yet to wear the colors of their nation in official tournaments. For 17 of the players, it will be the first Olympic tournament.

‘’Right now we have three lines of players that are here, practicing. Most of the players are from the KHL. On 29th players from European leagues will arrive for the camp.’’ Vitolins addressed the early things. The training camp gets underway on January 24th.

Team Latvia is scheduled to travel to the host city on February 2nd whereas on February 5th they will play an exhibition game against the 2018 Olympic Champions - Team Russia. The game will be played at the “National Indoor Stadium.’’ On February 7th Latvia will face off against Denmark to put an end to the preparation process.

When asked about captaincy the Latvian coach didn’t have anything to hide: ‘’Lauris Darzins will be the captain. He was one of the assistant captains during the Qualification tournament and Lauris is very experienced and has the right characteristics. No question about that and we will trust him with the task. About his assistants - the decision will be made later.’’

Meanwhile, the coaching staff will be cut down due to limits - Harijs Vitolins staff will include - Viktors Ignatjevs (Metallurg Magnitogorsk), Juris Klodans, Artis Abols, and video coach Peteris Groms (Avangard Omsk). ‘’There is a limit of how many people you can bring, at the Qualifying tournament we also had Raimonds Vilkoits, Karlis Zirnis but this time around we had to make a decision there as we just can’t take everyone.’’ 

Team Latvia roster for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing:

Goalies: Ivars Punnenovs, Janis Kalnins, Kristers Gudlevskis.

Defensemen: Oskars Cibulskis, Ralfs Freibergs, Kristaps Zile, Karlis Cukste, Patriks Ozols, Janis Jaks, Uvis Janis Balinskis, Arturs Kulda.

Forwards: Lauris Darzins, Nikolajs Jelisejevs, Martins Karsums, Miks Indrasis, Rihards Bukarts, Rodrigo Abols, Andris Dzerins, Oskars Batna, Deniss Smirnovs, Renars Krastenbergs, Martins Dzierkals, Kaspars Daugavins, Roberts Bukarts, Ronalds Kenins.

The Latvian National team will open up the Olympic tournament on February 10th when they will meet Team Sweden, a day later match against Finland will be played to then finish off the group stage on the 13th of February against Slovakia.

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