New champion for Latvia
by LHF|15 APR 2021
The HK Olimp/Venta 2002 players celebrate after winning the Latvian championship.
photo: Agris Bricis
This season seven teams competed for the Latvian championship title in the country’s top league Optibet Hockey Liga with HK Olimp/Venta 2002 taking first place.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the season was not as smooth for the teams as in the past as all teams were affected and had to take a break during the championship and resume play when the team was back in full health. Despite this issue, the championship teams and organizers managed to secure the overall health safety of the teams and players, following the special COVID-19 protocols. The championship schedules were re-organized to be able to play the full schedule of games and the complete regular season.

Four teams advanced to compete in the best-of-seven playoffs with regular-season winner HK Zemgale/LLU opening the semi-finals against fourth-place HK Mogo/LSPA while second seeded HK Olimp/Venta 2002 met HK Liepāja. In a very competitive and entertaining semi-final series Zemgale advanced to the final with a 4-2 series win, while Olimp/Venta 2002 needed just five games to advance against Liepaja, who ended up winning the bronze medals.

A huge battle between the best two teams was expected. The final series opened in Zemgale/LLU’s home city Jelgava with two games and surprisingly Olimp/Venta 2002 took two wins, 3-1 and 4-1, to bring series back to their home ice in the Riga suburb of Pinki for the next two games. There it became clear that this year there is going to be no match for Olimp/Venta 2002, who continued the dominate on their home ice beating Zemgale/LLU 3-1 and 5-1 to a 4-0 sweep in the series to become the new champions of Latvia.

This year, honouring 90 years of Latvian ice hockey, the player awards were named in the honour of historic Latvian hockey personalities. 
  • The Playoff MVP award named after Leonids Vedejs was awarded to Olimp/Venta 2002 forward Mikelis Redlihs.
  • The regular-season top scorer award named after Elmars Bauris went to Zemgale/LLU forward Kirils Tambijevs.
  • The Karlis Skrastins Award for the best defenceman was awarded to Mogo/LSPA’s Krisjanis Redlihs (brother of Mikelis)
  • The rest of the awards were all won by Zemgale/LLU players as the Sergejs Zoltoks Award for the best forward went to Roberts Jekimovs, the Aleksejs Auzins Award for the best young player to the defenceman and the team's young captain Patriks Ozols, and the Uldis Opits Award for the best goaltender was given to Rihards Cimermanis.
The Latvian championship organizers and participants are very pleased with the way the championship turned out this season as there were many challenges and uncertainties due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Latvian Hockey Federation believes that this season proved the toughness of all championship participants and the team management and the championship organizers’ great ability to adapt to new realties of the changing situation in order to maintain the league. Despite all the obstacles and restrictions with no spectators, this Latvian championship season will go down in history as one of the most competitive, challenging and greatest of all time.