‘Whole team of heroes’, says top hockey player

No major wins and barely hanging on to its spot in the elite division, but Latvian national hockey team top player Lauris Dārziņš told Latvian Radio after the World Championship Wednesday that the whole team played like heroes.

The national team went to Prague this year as a brand new formation with many rookies, all gaining an immeasurable experience on one of the grand stages of world sports.

“I’m not afraid to use the word, they’re all really heroes,” said Dārziņš, “maybe many will think I’m crazy for saying so, since we didn’t make the quarterfinals or get any medals. But everybody on the team is a hero. Those who look at hockey from a global perspective will know what I mean,” said the player, who boasted three goals and seven assists in the championship.

Together with goalie Edgars Masaļskis and forward Kaspars Daugaviņš the three helped Latvia hang on to 13th place in the international rankings and stay in the division.

On his part Latvian Hockey Federation (LHF) president Kirovs Lipmans took the opportunity to reiterate his familiar rant against the rulers of state for doing nothing about the poor funding of this particular sport, perhaps Latvia’s one unifying national obsession.

“We are paupers, complete paupers,” Lipmans told journalists. He grumbled that state officials left the team’s progress in the championship completely in neglect, offering no cheering support whatsoever. President Andris Bērziņš seems not to care at all about hockey in his final days in office, while Saeima Speaker Ināra Mūrniece might still know from school how to spell the word ‘s.p.o.r.t.s.’ but still doesn’t really get what it means, he raved.

Latvia’s ranking at 13th place this year is a repeat of its worst performance yet in the highest division of the world championships.

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