Saturday, May 20, 2006

Ice Hockey World Championships 2006

2006 World Championships in Ice Hockey is almost over. Team Latvia finished 10th:

Latvia - Czech Republic 1:1
Latvia - Finland 0:5
Latvia - Slovenia 5:1
Latvia - Canada 0:11
Latvia - USA 2:4
Latvia - Norway 4:2

The results are about what one could reasonably expect. Latvia almost always finishes ahead of Norway and Slovenia and was expected to win those teams. The other 4 teams are all significantly better than Latvia. 1:1 tie against Czech Republic was a nice surprise and fuelled hopes that our team could make quarterfinals, playing on its home ice with arena full of Latvian fans. The next games dashed those hopes. 0:11 against Canada was particularly painful. Canada is expected to win Latvia in ice hockey, but not by 11 goals. (Well, a referee who was very strict against Latvian players and maybe too respectful of Canadians, was a part of that.)

The generation change on Latvian team was nearly complete this time. For long time, the team consisted of players who started playing for Latvia in 1992 (after Latvia regained independence and our team returned to international tournaments) and continued playing throughout 1990s and early 2000s. In this tournament, the only players left from that generation were Naumovs, Pantelejevs, Semjonovs and Tambijevs. 14 out of 24 players have started playing for the team in last 5 years. A few years ago, there was a bit of fear that the new generation might not be as good as the previous one. But it has turned out to be fine.

Unfortunately, the games are still hard to find on Internet. I watched part of the Latvia-Finland game on an Internet feed of a Russian TV channel. When I tried to watch the next game on the same site, the access was restricted to subscribers of the Internet provider which provided the broadcast. I would be willing to watch the games on pay-per-view basis, but there was no such option, either. One website was selling access to games of 2005 World Championships, but not 2006.

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