Aigars Kalvitis Photo: Zane Bitere / LETA
In the case of good results in the Latvian hockey team, there will also be a pleasant atmosphere in the team, the head coach of the national team Harijs Vītoliņš said at the press conference. Due to injury, the championship will go to the experienced striker Miks Indrašis. Defenders Patriks Ozols, Nauris Sējējs and Ernests Ošenieks, as well as strikers Edgars Kulda and Patriks Zabusovs were last removed from the list of candidates.
However, the national team will include defender Kristaps Zīle, who has managed to recover in time and will be ready to help the national team. The tit only played its first test game on Monday. “Indras is seriously injured, he is still not ready to go to the ice. This is a great loss for us, because in the test game in Switzerland it was clear that he was motivated. It was a little different with Zill, he was already traumatized from Sweden and it was known that it would take him four weeks to recover. ”
“It was difficult to count the last players, of course. Everyone tried, tried to show themselves at their best. New players who have been disqualified must realize that this is a step forward in their careers. For most of them, this was the first year of adult hockey, so the time spent in the national team is a big plus, ”said Vītoliņš.
The coach also pointed out that the last two places in the national team will be left for Christian Rubin and Theodore Bluger, but depending on the situation, there are possible adjustments in the composition that will be announced for the matches. Vītoliņš also admitted that there are no health problems in the sample. “I only caught Covid-19. Ronalds Ķēniņš was a little sick, but today he went to the ice for individual training. The whole team passed the tests and they were negative, ”the coach emphasized.
The national team will play its first game in the championship against the US national team. The head coach said that changes were made to the training process this year to make the championship a success. “It simply came to our notice then. A new, fast, mobile team. After the Olympics, we concluded that the first thing we lack is speed, which we also put the most emphasis on in the training process. It paid off because we were superior in speed and aggression in the games against Kazakhstan. We are not the most masterful, so it must be compensated with energy, ”explained Vītoliņš.
In his turn, the President of the Latvian Hockey Federation (LHF) Aigars Kalvītis added that the players have the opportunity to earn a good performance, for example, reaching the quarterfinals. “It should be understood that the national team does not have to play for bonuses. However, when entering the top eight, half of the international federation’s premiums will go to the team, while the other part will remain with the federation to cover the costs, “said the president of LHF.
In the context of the national team, Vītoliņš admitted that the situation may change during the championship, as well as the national team captain and his assistants will be the same players as they were in the last match against Kazakhstan. “Rodrigo Ābols will be the team captain in the championship, but Rūdolfs Balcers and Artūrs Kulda will be assistants. The decision on it was made by the coaches’ corps, ”revealed Vītoliņš.
The National Hockey League (NHL) striker Balcer previously told the media that the team had noticed a change in the team’s atmosphere and that there was more silence in the locker room. “It’s harder for a coach to say that. But that’s good, because peace is needed. We have players who can say the right words at the right time and take the lead. There will be good results, there will be a good atmosphere. The main thing is to make each player feel comfortable. The last test games and the whole training process showed that the atmosphere is pleasant, ”admitted Vītoliņš.
Meanwhile, LHF Secretary General Robert Mower pointed out changes to the Covid-19 guidelines. “The International Hockey Federation (IIHF) and all national federations have gained experience in recent years in preparing for and conducting the championship safely. Therefore, this year the sample has already been tested before departure and only one test will be required to obtain accreditation in Finland. In case of symptoms and a positive test, there will be five days of self-isolation, but the rest of the team work will not be affected, ”explained the Mower.
He also mentioned that the number of Latvian fans who will support the national team in Finland will be smaller than in previous years. The national team will leave for Finland tomorrow, having two trainings on Friday before the first game of the championship. The Latvian national team at the World Championships in Group B in Tampere crossed sticks with Finland, the United States, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Norway, Great Britain and Austria. Canada, Germany, Switzerland, Slovakia, Denmark, Kazakhstan, Italy and France will play in Group A. Helsinki. The 2022 World Championships in Finland will take place from 13 to 29 May.