Ice Hockey in Latvia
The most popular sport in Latvia is most definitely ice hockey. The professional ice hockey league is Latvian Hockey Higher League that is held since. There are also some amateur ice hockey leagues in Latvia, but these don’t attract that wide range of audience like professional hockey. In Latvia, ice hockey has been played since the late 1920s, and there is no surprise that Latvia is a member of the IIHF or International Ice Hockey Federation and Latvian national hockey team has participated in various championships including major World Championships as well as the Winter Olympic Games that Were held in 1936. Latvian membership in the International Ice Hockey Federation was briefly interrupted during the Soviet occupation in 1940. It also should be noted that Latvian played a significant role in ice hockey that was played in the Soviet Union.
The major Latvian ice hockey team is Dinamo Riga which was one of the eleven teams that played ice hockey in the U.S.S.R. These eleven teams including Latvian team Dinamo Riga played in the first Soviet championship tournament that was held in the winter of 1947. For the Soviet team, the goaltender was Latvian Harijs Mellups in the first game that was held in 1948. During the 1960s the Latvian ice hockey embarked on some issues that resulted in a slight decline. At this time the best Latvian ice hockey team Dinamo Riga was relegated from the highest Soviet league called as vysshaya liga to the first league and later even to the second league. However, Latvian ice hockey began to climb the ladder in the middle of 1970s under a well-known name in the ice hockey world coach Viktor Tikhonov. Viktor Tikhonov later was the coach of other highest league teams such as CSKA Moscow as well as the Soviet national team. Dinamo Riga experienced a great comeback during the 1973 season when they returned to the Premier League, and they stayed there until 1991 when the end of Soviet Union began.
Latvian Elite Ice Hockey League
Viktor Hatulev who was one of the greatest Dinamo Riga players became the first Soviet Union ice hockey player to be drafted by NHL or National Hockey League, but he never had a chance to play really since Soviet Union players weren’t allowed to play in other leagues that are foreign. One of the brightest Latvian ice hockey stars was definitely Helmuts Balderis who was in his best shape in the 1970s as well as in the 1980s. Hemults Balderis has achieved some of the all-time scoring recordings such as scoring three hundred thirty-three goals during the Soviet Championship playing for Latvian forwards. Helmuts Balderis was also the leading scorer in numerous other matches including matches from the 1977 and 1983 while playing for Soviet National team. He was also the player of the Year once in 1977. Later in his career, Helmuts Balderis was playing for Soviet National team, and his team lost in the Miracle in Ice game held in 1989. However, he was n winning side when playing the World Championships in the year 1978 as well as in years 1979 and 1983.
He is most certainly one of the brightest stars in Latvian ice hockey, so there was no surprise when he was named the best forward of the Ice Hockey World Championship that was held in 1977. Despite his great success on the ice, he wasn’t selected to play for Soviet National team for the Winter Olympic Games that were held in 1984. The reasons for this might lie in national and political reasons. Even though Helmuts Balderis was the all-times top scorer, he never was awarded the Olympic gold medal. On the other hand, the best season for Latvian greatest ice hockey team Dinamo Riga was that season of 1987. This was the first season when the highest ranking Soviet league the Soviet Elite League instituted NHL similar style playoff system. As of 2008, several Latvian ice hockey players have been playing in NHL. There is no surprise that first of them was Helmuts Bakderis who joined the Minnesota North Stars team when he was thirty-six years old in the season on 1989. Other successful Latvian players that joined the NHL were Sergejs Yoltoks, Karlis Skratins, Artus Irbe, Sandis Ozolins, and other.
Ice Hockey in the United States
Ice hockey is widely popular sports in the United States. The contemporary sport was firstly developed in Canada, Montreal most notably where first hockey games were played in 1875. Some features of that initial form of ice hockey like lengths of the ice rink have been incorporated into the game today. The game enjoyed great popularity, and soon it has spread overseas from a large number of Canadian immigrants. They used to play a game similar to today’s ice hockey with stick and ball on frozen lakes and ponds in winter times. The first recorded ice hockey game that was played in the United States was at Yale University in 1893.
The major professional hockey league in the United States in the NHL or National Hockey League consisted of seven Canadian and twenty-three American teams. It should be noted that the average attendance in NHL recent seasons surpassed NBA attendance recently, which speaks greatly of how ice hockey is a popular sport in the United States watched by millions worldwide. Minor United State ice hockey leagues include American Hockey League and ECHL. It also should be noted that college hockey is widely popular in the United States, so it’s regionally followed in the upper Midwestern and Northeastern United States. College hockey also attracts a great audience just like minor ice hockey leagues. Today, there are over two thousand rinks just in the United States. The National Hockey League NHL consists of thirty teams, and seven of them are Canadian, and thirty-three of them are American teams. As of 2015, the United States has won sixteen medals including bronze, silver and gold medals. Today the United States has more young ice hockey players than all other countries combined expect for Canada.
Latvia Meets the United States
When it comes to the sports event between Latvia and the United States, greatest attention is to their matches in ice hockey. When the United States meets Latvia on the ice, there is a great audience, and their matches attract a great audience. Great ice hockey match between these countries took place on the fifth of the May this year, and we have to admit that was among greatest ice hockey sports events. This time the United States claimed victory in the final minutes of the match. You were able to see sparks that fly since both teams showed why are they so respected. The previous ice hockey meeting between the United States and Latvia took place in 2014 in the capital of Belarus Minsk, and that meeting ended with Latvia edging by the goal in 11. This time at the Cologne two teams shared eight goals in other wild and frenetic battle that ended up with a victory of the United States. Therefore the United States is securing a quarter-final spot.
The score was locked at three to tree barely four minutes until the end of the match, and the winner of the game came up to be Andrew Copp who was streaking his zone in order to make a meeting with Elvis Merzlikins, the Latvian goalkeeper. Latvia that never had behind this much during the game until this moment, really threw everything in search of an equalizer, but as soon as the did they were hit by empty-netter threw at them by Dylan Larking who sealed the five to three outcome which meant a victory for the United States in this great ice hockey match. The audience was on fire in these final four minutes. Copp after the match said that it was a great victory given the previous adversity. He also said that the Latvian team played really hard especially in initial periods, s his team really needed to get into higher intensity mode in order to cope with amazing Latvian players.
The defeat was hard on Latvian players, but the early pressure from the United States player has done enough damage for Latvian team to lose this match. The pressure really was present in the early stages of the match, and Latvian player was greatly coping with it until the several few minutes when the Coop scored for his team and placed the United States in the quarter-final phase.
Other than meeting in ice hockey championships in Minsk in 2014 and this match that took place in Cologne, Latvia and the United States also played against each other in an international football friendly match that ended up with the United States beating Latvia with score one to zero. This match also attracted a huge number of people even though the meeting between two countries was international friendly. Since these two countries have a long history of great diplomatic relations, everybody wanted to see them in friendly competition.