Riga, August 27, LETA. The Latvian men’s hockey team celebrated its second victory in the tournament in Riga in the fight for a ticket to the 2022 Beijing Olympics on Friday, destroying Hungary in the last third.
Latvia beat Hungary by 9: 0 (1: 0, 0: 0, 8: 0).
Rūdolfs Balcers scored three goals, Rodrigo Ābols, Teodors Bļugers and Ronalds Ķēniņš scored two goals.
Compared to the day before, this time Andris Džeriņš was not entered for the game in Latvia, and Deniss Smirnovs took his place in the center of the fourth substitution. Smārsnovs was replaced by Renārs Krastenbergs in the 13th attacker’s position, replaced by Mārtiņš Dzierkals in the fourth three, who did not play on the first day.
For the second game in a row, Latvia took the lead after Jānis Jaks’ shot, which was improved by Ābols in front of the goal. Ronald Ķēniņš also had a successful pass.
In the 18th minute, the Hungarian Kristians Naģis immediately earned four penalty minutes, but this opportunity remained unused.
The Hungarians finished the first period without accurate shots on the goal guarded by Ivars Punnenovs, the Latvians threw on average once a minute – 20 times, but in the 24th minute two dangerous shots had to be averted by the goalkeeper of the Latvian national team, coping with it perfectly.
In the 32nd minute after Zemgus Girgenson’s shot, the puck hit the cross guard of Miklos Rajna’s goal, but shortly after that two good moments of scoring were scored by Robert Bucharest, remaining unrealized.
After the first third, Rajna had replaced Zoltāns Hetēnji with a goal.
By repelling the Latvian blows, at the end of the period the Hungarian attacks became more and more dangerous, with István Sofron also hitting the gate structure.
In the second period, the Hungarians threw more goals, disturbing Punnenov ten times, while seven shots were fired at the Rhine goal.
The home team secured the victory at the start of the third third, twice taking away the opponents puck in their area. First, when the King passed, Rūdolfs Balcers scored the goal after 32 seconds played in the period. Soon after, Kārlis Čuksts had a great chance to beat Rajna, but two minutes and 19 seconds after scoring the second goal, Ābols helped the Hungarian to break away from the puck in the opponent’s area, and after Balcer’s pass, the King scored 3 – 0.
In the 52nd minute, from the front of the goal after Laura Dārziņa and Rūdolfs Balcera, Bļugers reached the majority 4: 0, but in the last six minutes Rajna was forced to tick out one puck after another.
In the 55th minute, after the passes of Robert Bukarts and Ķēniņš, Ābols stood out, but after 23 seconds after the passage of the King, Balcers scored.
After this goal, the Hungarians broke, the Latvians scored three more goals. In the 57th minute, Blugers scored the seventh goal for Latvia with a shot from the back of the goalkeeper. The puck slipped parallel to the goal line after his shot, and only after watching the video replay was the goal gain – 7: 0.
In the majority, 97 seconds before the end of the match after the passes of Mika Indraš and Dārziņš, Balcers threw their third goal in the game, but 13 seconds later, the King scored with his second goal in the match after the passes of Ābols and Balcers.
Balcers earned six (3 + 3) performance points in this game, with five (2 + 3) the King stood out, with three – Apple (2 + 1) and Robert Bucharest (0 + 3), with two – Blugers (2 + 0) and Garden (0 + 2).
In the goal, Punnenov stood “dry” for the second game in a row, repelling all 17 shots. The Hungarian national goalkeepers handled 37 of the 46 shots.
Ābols was recognized as the best in the Latvian team, but in the Hungarian team – the striker Kristofs Paps.
After two rounds of games, Latvia and France have two victories, but without victories and hopes for the Beijing Games ticket are Hungary and Italy, which will fight for the third place in the group on Sunday.
It has already been reported that France won the game of Italian and French hockey players – 2: 0.
On the last day of the tournament, on Sunday, a match against France is planned for Latvian hockey players at 5 pm.
On the first day of the competition, Latvia defeated Italy with 6: 0, but Hungary lost to France with 3: 5.
It has already been reported that in the two test games before the qualifying tournament, Latvia won Norway 4: 2 a week ago and lost 1: 4.
Hungary lost to Austria 5: 7 on 21 August.
This is the first tournament for the Latvian hockey team led by the new coach Harijs Vītoliņš. The team of coaches also includes Viktors Ignatjevs, Artis Ābols, Raimonds Vilkoits, goalkeeper coach Juris Klodāns and Kārlis Zirnis.
In parallel with the Olympic qualifying tournament in Riga, eight more national teams are distributing two tickets to the Beijing Olympics. In Group D, Slovaks, Belarusians, Austrians and Poles meet in Bratislava. In addition to Norwegians, Danes, South Koreans and Slovenes also participate in Oslo. Only group winners will win the start of the Olympic Games.
The Latvian national team has participated in four consecutive Winter Olympics – in 2002 in Salt Lake City, in 2006 in Turin, in 2010 in Vancouver and in 2014 in Sochi – but no ticket to the 2018 Pyongyang Olympics was won.
Participation in the tournament in Beijing is already provided for Canada, Russia, Finland, Sweden, the Czech Republic, the USA, Germany, Switzerland and hostess China.
Composition of the Latvian men’s hockey team for participation in the 2022 Beijing Olympic Games qualification tournament:
Goalkeepers: Ivars Punnenovs (Langnavas “Tigers”, Switzerland), Artūrs Šilovs (Manitoba “Moose”, AHL), Mareks Mitens (Utica “Comets”, AHL);
Defenders: Ralfs Freibergs, Oskars Cibuļskis, Kristaps Sotnieks, Kārlis Čukste (all – Riga “Dinamo”, KHL), Kristiāns Rubīns (Toronto “Marlies”, AHL), Sandis Smons (Geneva “Servette”, Switzerland), Uvis Balinskis (Litvin Verva, Czech Republic), Jānis Jaks (Sochi, KHL);
Attackers: Theodors Blugers (Pittsburgh Penguins, NHL), Zemgus Girgensons (Buffalo Sabers, NHL), Rudolf Balcers (San Jose Sharks, NHL), Lauris Dārziņš (Riga Dynamo, KHL), Miks Indrašis (Podolsk) “Vitjaz”, KHL), Andris Jerins (Linz “Black Wings”, Austria), Rodrigo Apple (“Orebro”, Sweden), Dennis Smirnov (Geneva “Servette”, Switzerland), Renar Krastenberg (“Villacher SV”, Austria) , Mārtiņš Dzierkals (without club), Kaspars Daugaviņš (“Bern”, Switzerland), Rihards Bukarts (Vladivostok “Admiral”, KHL), Roberts Bukarts (Vītkovice “Ridera”, Czech Republic), Ronalds Ķēniņš (“Lausanne”, Switzerland).