Friday, January 10, 2014

Latvian sports: Hockey

You will rarely hear me mention sports. Unless those sports have something to do with Latvians, of course. For example, I have no problem admitting that about a dozen years ago I spent $20 to watch a Latvian soccer match in a Dupont Circle bar with some friends. (Those $20 did not include any food or drink - that was actually just the price to watch the game!)

This weekend I would have been willing to spend good money for tickets to a hockey game -- if only there were tickets available. However, the Washington Capitals had a very successful season last year, and they are as popular as ever, thus all tickets for Sunday's game with the Buffalo Sabres are sold out. Naturally, the only reason I'd be at all interested in seeing this match is because the NHL's only current Latvian player, Zemgus Girgensons (LOVE that name!), is with the Sabres. He was also recently named to Latvia's Olympic team. He just turned 20 at the beginning of this month, so let's hope he has a long successful career ahead of him!

The one Capitals game I attended many years ago was with a group of Latvians (of course!) to see them play the San Jose Sharks, when Sandis Ozolins was a member of the Sharks. We met him after the game - nice man. He was also just named to the Latvian Olympic hockey roster -- and, at age 41, is the team's oldest member.

Unfortunately, according to NBC sports, "Latvia is unlikely to make it to the quarterfinals of the 12-team tournament, a fate it suffered in the last three Olympics." Yet, I should point out that just making it to the Olympics is a feat in and of itself. Plus, it will be a great opportunity for Latvian hockey fans to make themselves heard and seen again.

The Winter Olympics begin February 7, and Latvia's first game is against Switzerland on the 12th.


  1. So, do you think that the fact that the Olympics are occurring in Russia will have any effect on fan rowdiness? As in, will "the usual" from Latvian fans be tolerated/allowed?

  2. That is an excellent question I had not considered! I do know that the President of Latvia is getting some flack for even attending the Olympics, as quite a few European heads of state are refusing to go.

    I did just check - Latvia's group also contains Sweden and the Czech Republic in addition to the aforementioned Switzerland. In all likelihood Latvia will not have a direct match up against Russia...that would have been a different matter.


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