Slovak hockey players will play the last C-group match at the Olympic tournament in Beijing against Latvia.
ONLINE: Slovakia – Latvia (ZOH 2022)
The third opponent is in the same situation as the players from the Tatras. According to the following country, the Latvians from both Sweden and Finland, so they did not get any body in the table. They also managed to score only three goals, but collected less. The group’s favorites were able to torment more significantly, and therefore the fight against them does not automatically guarantee a win, but promises a challenging and balanced fight. The skeleton of the team consists of KHL players, their selection also has more experience from national team matches than the Slovak team.
“We want to play fast and active. But if we lose the puck, we will try to inflate the middle band and make it difficult for them to enter, ” stated the basis of the strategy for Sunday ‘s match assistant to the head coach of Latvia Artis Abols for Diena.lv.
The trio of Latvian goalkeepers is not unknown to Slovak players, some of them came across them in preparatory matches, tournaments, but also at the club level. None of the Latvians have ever caught at the Olympics. They don’t even have much experience with representation, unlike other posts at the time.
Ivars Punnenovs started in the opening match against the Swedes, in which he collected three goals from 26 shots. The 27-year-old goalkeeper grew up in Switzerland, has been playing in the top league for nine years and the SCL Tigers has been working for the seventh season.
He captured against the Slovaks in a preparatory match last year in April. At that time, he held a clean sheet for three-thirds, which Juraj Slafkovský finally scored in overtime. He has no good memories of Slovakia even from the last mutual confrontation at the Swiss Cup, when he collected three goals and took turns after the second period. Latvia then lost 2: 6.
Source: TASR / AP
Three years older Janis Kalninš he gained confidence in the second match under five circles. He faced 38 Finnish missiles, only three stopped behind his back. He worked in the KHL for five seasons, and was part of the Jokerit Helsinki for three years. He is currently catching in the highest Swedish competition. So the Slovak team has better experience, in the preparatory match in April 2021 he led Latvia to a close 2: 1 win after extra time.
The team trio is not a foreign foreign fan. Kristers Gudlevskis started this season in the Tipos Extralige in the Slovan jersey, which he later exchanged for the club of the highest Swedish league. As the only one of the three to pass the NHL draft, he only caught three matches in the Tampa Bay jersey. He also scored against Slovakia in preparation, lost in both matches and collected a total of seven goals.
The Latvians competed in both matches with four defensive pairs. The most experienced of the first formation leads the defensive Oskars Cibulskis, which played over 50 matches in the national team and helped the team qualify for Beijing. A substantial part took place in the KHL, where it celebrated winning the less popular Cup of Hope. Twice he became one of the three best players of the team in the competition of the world and the determining one of the two victories over Slovakia at the world championship.
He gets by his side Ralfs Freibergs, which for the second time contributed to Latvia’s participation in the Olympics. He has experience from lower North American leagues, after returning to Europe he played in the Czech Republic.
Latvia – Finland
Source: TASR / AP
The other couple form Janis Jakš a Roberts Mamčicsthird Kristaps Žile a Uvis Balinškis, which is Latvia’s most productive defender in Beijing. A stable part of the fourth pair is Patrick Ozolsnext to which they took turns Nauris Sejejs veteran Arturs Kulda, who was the only defender in the NHL. In the KHL, in the past he managed to block the most shots of the season, but he also scored the most goals in the championship as a back.
Latvia, as well as Slovakia, managed to score against the same favorite only. However, the goals were shared between three different players. An experienced captain also leads the offensive Lauris Darzinswho is one of the oldest hockey players at the Olympics. The 37-year-old winger is the most productive striker thanks to double assistance, scoring two goals against Sweden, with which the Latvians tried to turn the match around. He also played against Slovakia in the last match under five circles in Vancouver in 2010.
The forward of the first formation also has two points Renars Krastenbergs per goal and one assist. Apart from him, they only managed to score Rodrigo Abols a Nikolai Yeliseyev. Points would also please the attackers of the fourth formation Robertsa Bukartsa a Martinsa Dzierkalsawhich is doing well in the Czech extra league and is one of the TOP 5 most productive players in the Latvian team in terms of the club season.
Matches with Slovakia
Slovakia rarely encounters Latvia at the largest hockey tournaments, most often countries measure their strength in preparatory duels. Only three matches against these countries were played at the World Cup. It is surprising that Slovaks cannot succeed in any of them. However, as they always lose at championships, they have the best balance of the Olympics. At both meetings, in Turin 2006 and in Vancouver 2010, they celebrated their victory with six goals. Their third duel under the five circles will be much more balanced this time.
The program of hockey matches of Slovakia at the Winter Olympics in Beijing