Latvia Stocked With OHL Grads For Sochi Olympics

latvia national team jerseyLatvia rolls into the Sochi next month with one of the largest collections of Ontario Hockey League grads for the Men’s Winter Olympics Hockey tournament. Five OHL Alumni will be on the ice for Latvia with another behind the bench as head coach. All have become the nucleus of Latvian hockey with each playing ample hockey on the international front for their home country.

Arvids Rekis

Rekis played four years in the OHL from 1996-97 to 1999-00, all with the Erie Otters. Arvids was the 21st overall pick by Erie at the 1996 CHL Import Draft. He has been back in Europe since 2003-04, playing in Germany’s DEL and the Russia based KHL. 2013-14 is his fourth year with the KHL’s Dinamo Riga.

Arvids competed for Latvia at the 2006 and 2010 Olympics. Rekis has also played for his home country at the IIHF World Championships seven times between 2003 and 2011.

Kaspars Daugavins

Daugavins played three years in the OHL from 2006-07 to 2008-09 with the Toronto / Mississauga Majors. He was the third overall pick by the Majors at the 2006 CHL Import Draft. That same spring, Kaspars was a third round pick by the Ottawa Senators at the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, 91st overall.

Kaspars has been a full-time pro since 2009-10 in the AHL, NHL, KHL and Switzerland’s NLA. He played 91 regular season games in the National Hockey League with the Senators and Boston Bruiins. 2013-14 is Daugavins first year with Geneve-Servette of the NLA and is fresh off the 2013 Spengler Cup.

Daugavins played for Latvia at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia. He has also played for the team at five different World Championships between 2006 and 2012.

Juris Stals

Stals played two years in the Ontario Hockey League, 2001-02 and 2002-03. His first year was spent with the Sarnia Sting and his second year was with the Owen Sound Attack. At the 2001 CHL Import Draft, Juris was the 23rd overall pick by the Sting. Like Kaspars Daugavins, Stals was taken in the NHL Entry Draft the same year he was drafted to the OHL. The New York Rangers made him a ninth round pick at the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, 269th overall.

Juris has played pro since 2003-04 in the AHL, ECHL, the Czech Republic’s Extraliga, Belarus elite league, Latvia elite league, KHL, IHL, Ukraine elite league and Slovakia’s Extraliga. 2013-14 is his second year with HK SKP Poprad in Slovakia.

Sochi will be his first Olympic Games but Stals played in qualifier games for Latvia in 2004-05, 2008-09 and 2012-13. Juris has played for Latvia at the World Championships six times between 2006 and 2013.

Herberts Vasiljevs

Vasiljevs played one outstanding year in the OHL with the Guelph Storm in 1995-96. Undrafted into the CHL and NHL, Herberts has played pro since 1996-97. He appeared in 51 NHL games between 1998-99 and 2001-02 with the Florida Panthers, Atlanta Thrashers and Vancouver Canucks.

Herberts has been in Europe since 2003-04. His first year was spent in the Russian Super League and he has since played in Germany’s DEL. 2013-14 is his ninth year with Krefeld Pinguine of the DEL and he has been team captain since 2007-08. However, Vasiljevs has yet to play a game for Krefeld this year due to injury.

Vasiljevs was an olympian in 2006 and 2010. He has played an amazing ten IIHF World Championship tournaments for Latvia between 1998 and 2011.

Arturs Kulda

The new guy. Kulda played two years in the OHL, 2006-07 and 2007-08, with the Peterborough Petes. The Petes selected Arturs 48th overall at the 2006 CHL Import Draft. The Atlanta Thrashers took him in the seventh round of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, 200th overall.

Kulda played 15 games in the National Hockey League with the Thrashers and Winnipeg Jets. 2013-14 is his first year with Salavat Yulaev Ufa of the KHL. 2014 will be his first time at the Olympics. Arturs played at the World Championships in 2010, 2011 and 2013.

Ted Nolan – Head Coach

The current coach of the Buffalo Sabres played two years in the OHL, 1976-77 and 1977-78, with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Nolan was a fifth round pick by the Detroit Red Wings at the 1978 NHL Amateur Draft. He played pro from 1978-79 to 1985-86 in the CHL, AHL and NHL. Ted appeared in 78 NHL games with the Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins.

Nolan returned to the OHL to coach the Greyhounds from 1988-89 to 1993-94. He then moved on to the NHL and had been head coach of the Hartford Whalers, Buffalo Sabres and New York Islanders. This will be his first time coaching Latvia at the Olympics. He was head coach of the team at the 2012 and 2013 World Championships and will coach the team again 2014, unless the Sabres go on an amazing run in the second half of the NHL season.


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