Line-up heavy on rookies shooting for quarterfinals

The twenty-five players selected by the Latvian national hockey team to fly out Wednesday to the Czech Republic for the World Championship games holds an almost one-third ratio of rookies to experienced players, announced head coach Aleksandrs Beļavskis Monday.

Latvia’s Hockey Federation (LHF) expects that the team will fight for a place in the quarterfinals. LHF President Kirov Lipman hoped it would be at least a top-ten performance and made his usual tirade against state disinterest in funding the team.

“It’s not for the LHF they’re playing here but for their people and their nation,” Kirovs told LR sports reporter Mārtiņš Kļavenieks Tuesday.

Seven of the players picked are first-timers, but last-minute changes can still be made by the coach, who had a week longer than usual this year to check out the upcoming talent in the exhibition season.

The team captain will be Kaspars Daugaviņš, assisted by Lauris Dārziņš and Jānis Sprukts.

LHF general secretary Māris Baldonieks said that despite the high ratio of rookies to veterans, the team has been performing better as a unit so there is hope for a solid result at the World Championship, which takes place from May 1 - 17.

The first set of games in Prague will see Latvia facing Canada, the Czechs, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany Austria and France. The second set in Ostrava the team will play Finland, Russia, the USA, Slovakia, Norway, Belarus, Slovenia and Denmark. The four best from each group will continue to the quarterfinals.

Latvia’s team line-up for the World Championship in the Czech Republic

Goalies: Jānis Kalniņš ("Acelbikak", Hungary), Ervīns Muštukovs ("Aalborg", Denmark), Edgars Masaļskis ("Ambri Piotta", Switzerland)

Defenders: Oskars Cibuļskis, Kristaps Sotnieks, Krišjānis Rēdlihs, Aleksandrs Jerofejevs (all from Rīga "Dinamo"), Renārs Demiters (HK "Astana", Kazakhstan), Māris Jass (Znojmo "Orli", Czech Republic), Maksims Širokovs ("Red Ice", Swizerland), Guntis Galviņš (HC "Bolzano", Italy)

Forwards: Mārtiņš Cipulis, *Miks Indrašis, Andris Džeriņš, Kaspars Saulietis, Lauris Dārziņš, Miķelis Rēdlihs, Rodrigo Ābols, Roberts Bukarts, Gunārs Skvorcovs (all from Rīga "Dinamo"), Jānis Sprukts ("Fribourg-Gotteron", Switzerland), Koba Jass (Liberecas "Bili Tygri", Czech Republic), Lauris Bajaruns ("Rungsted", Denmark), Armands Bērziņš ("Val Pusteria", Italy), Kaspars Daugaviņš (Moscow "Dinamo", KHL), Ņikita Jevpalovs (Bleinvilas-Buābriānas "Armada", QMJHL)

*Miks Indrašis may recover from an injury in time to join the team on the ice

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