PASSAU, Germany – Latvia has been known for years as nation crazy for ice hockey. Next year Latvia will also be represented at the IIHF Inline Hockey World Championship for the first time after winning the European qualification event.
Latvia will replace Bulgaria in the 2014 IIHF Inline Hockey World Championship that will be played in Pardubice, Czech Republic, 15-21 June 2014. The Bulgarians were relegated this summer and can play in the Inline Hockey Qualification no earlier than next year.
Latvia’s qualification was never in doubt during the Baltic nation’s two games at the IIHF European Inline Hockey Qualification in the Bavarian town of Passau.
The Latvians started the event by steamrolling the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, 35-1. The Macedonians played in the event for the second time but have yet to get their first win, dropping their second game 14-0 to Ireland.
On Sunday it all came down to the Latvia vs. Ireland game, but the Irish were a challenge only in the beginning. It took over seven minutes until Vladislavs Konisevs broke the scoreless tie and Arturs Batraks made it 2-0 after the first period. The Latvians continued scoring unanswered goals especially towards the end of a game they eventually won 13-0.
All Latvian skaters managed to score goals in the two games and four were tied in scoring with 12 points: Batraks, Eduards Mitrovs, Rolands Dietlavs and Romans Glaskovs. Batraks and Viesturs Cimermanis were the top goal scorers with seven markers each.
Most of the Latvian players play in Latvia’s top ice hockey league during the winter season and in the Latvian inline hockey championship in the summer months.
Latvia is set to play its first IIHF Inline Hockey World Championship next summer in the Division I competition. Their opponents in Group C will be Slovenia, Australia and Croatia.
The other qualifier will be determined in the Rest of the World Inline Hockey Qualification. The dates, venues and participants of that tournament will be announced at a later date.
Click here for box scores from the European Qualification.