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Latvia kick-start Olympic campaign against Switzerland

Feb 12, 2014
From wire reports, RIGA

Latvia kick-start Olympic campaign against Switzerland
The game will kick-start at 7pm Baltic time (photo:flickr)

The Latvian national men's ice hockey team will open the their Olympic campaign this evening with a preliminary round match against Switzerland.

The Group C match will begin in Russia's Sochi at 7 p.m. (Latvian time) and will be broadcast live on Re:TV, TV3 and Viasat Sport Baltic.

This is the first time that Latvia will play Switzerland in the Olympics. Sweden will take on the Czech Republic in the other Group C match.

Latvia will continue their Olympic tournament on Friday against the Czech Republic, and will play its final group match on Saturday against Sweden.

The Olympic men's ice hockey tournament is made up of four groups of four. The top four teams from the group stage will automatically qualify for the tournament's quarterfinals, while teams placed 5th to 12th will play in a special ''play-off'' stage to advance to the quarterfinals.

This is the fourth Olympics in a row for the Latvian national men's ice hockey team, which has not won an Olympic game since 2002.

Elsewhere, in an interview with the official web-site of the National Hockey League (NHL), the head coach of the Latvian national men's ice hockey team Ted Nolan said that Latvia would likely not have qualified for the Olympics had legendary Latvian defenseman Sandis Ozolins not come out of retirement from the national team.

Nolan said: "Right before the qualifying tournament last February, I got a call from Ozolins saying, 'Hey, I want to play,'" Nolan said. "It took us two years to get him to come back and sure enough, he came back. If he didn't come back in that tournament, I don't think we go to the Olympics. He meant that much to the team."

The roster of the Latvian Olympic ice hockey team is as follows:

Goaltenders - Kristers Gudlevskis (Syracuse "Crunch", AHL), Ervins Mustukovs ("Esbjerg", Denmark), Edgars Masalskis (''Poprad'', Slovakia)

Defensemen - Sandis Ozolins, Arvids Rekis, Georgijs Pujacs, Krisjanis Redlihs, Kristaps Sotnieks (all - Riga "Dinamo", KHL), Oskars Bartulis (Donetsk "Donbass", KHL), Arturs Kulda (Ufa "Salavat Yulaev", KHL), Ralfs Freibergs (Bowling Green "Falcons", NCAA)

Forwards - Miks Indrasis, Martins Cipulis, Vitalijs Pavlovs, Lauris Darzins (all - Rigas "Dinamo"), Martins Karsums (Moscow "Dinamo", KHL), Mikelis Redlihs, Janis Sprukts (both - Yaroslavl "Lokomotiv", KHL), Ronalds Kenins (Zurich "ZSC Lions", Switzerland), Kaspars Daugavins (Geneva "Servette", Switzerland), Herberts Vasiljevs (Krefeld "Pinguine", Germany), Koba Jass (Liberec "Bili Tygri", Czech Republic), Juris Stals ("Poprad", Slovakia), Armands Berzins (Atirau "Beibaris", Kazakhstan), Zemgus Girgensons (Buffalo "Sabres", NHL).

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