It was an Olympics to remember for Team Latvia but they’ll have a bad memory to take home with them.
The IOC disqualified forward Vitalijs Pavlovs from the Olympics for testing positive for the banned stimulant methylhexaneamine. Martin Merk at IIHF.com has the details.
At a hearing held on Saturday, the player informed the IOC Disciplinary Committee that he has been taking food supplements upon the recommendation of the doctor of his club team and that he did not understand how this substance entered his body.
Pavlovs, 24, was making his first appearance in the Olympics and had one assist during the tournament. Along with being disqualified, he will have his diploma for finishing eighth with Team Latvia withdrawn.
Next up for Pavlovs will be to see whether the IOC and IIHF decide to punish him any further for the positive test.
Fans have gotten to know Team Latvia and Tampa Bay Lightning prospect goalie Kristers Gudlevskis after his incredible performance in a 2-1 loss to Canada in the quarterfinals. Now NHL fans might get to know him a little better.
As Missy Zielinski of the Lightning site shares, coach Jon Cooper said Gudlevskis will head to Tampa instead of back to Syracuse because backup Anders Lindback health status is unknown.
Lindback has been dealing with a sprained left ankle and it came at a poor time as Ben Bishop had been dealing with an injury. At a time when Lindback could’ve shown that he too could prove reliable, he wound up out of the lineup and opened things up for Cedrick Desjardins and Gudlevskis to get the call from the AHL.
Now Gudlevskis will at least practice with the Bolts while Lindback’s ankle is figured out. With his new found celebrity thanks to his play in the Olympics, Gudlevskis could earn a bit more attention this time around.
If you think Latvia will spend the night celebrating their 3-1 upset victory against Switzerland, think again.
Latvia won’t get time to relax as they’ll face Canada on Wednesday and as their players told Olympic News Service, they’re focused and know they’ll give it all they’ve got against the defending gold medalists.
“I won’t shout out that we will beat Canada, but we’ll try,” said goalie Edgars Masalskis. “We’ll do all that we can to give them a tough battle.
“It’s a game, hockey. The game starts at 0-0. Who knows? Maybe we’ll beat them. Of course, we’ll try. We want to battle for medals. In principle, there’s only two games left to win.”
Expectations outside of Latvia for the Latvian team were low headed into the Olympics. Seeing them in the quarterfinals and a win away from having a shot at a medal exceeds most everyone’s expectations. Don’t count on them resting their laurels on beating the Swiss, however.
“It’s tomorrow already,” said defenseman Oskars Bartulis. “We have to forget this game as soon as possible.”
That’s a good way to move ahead. While their chances against Canada may not be great, don’t tell that to the Latvians.
“Everybody has a chance. Chances, chances!” said forward Janis Sprukts. “Canadians also play hockey and we play hockey and, if we play as a team, there will be a chance.”
Anything goes in a single-elimination tournament.
Sweden came away with a 5-3 win against Latvia, but it wasn’t the kind of confidence-building blowout some were expecting to happen.
Latvia held an early 2-1 lead before Sweden came back to control the game, but it wasn’t without trepidation. As Slava Malamud at IIHF.com shares, the Swedes gave full marks to the Latvians for how they played.
“We know Latvia is a good team and if you make mistakes, they can come fast at you,” said Loui Eriksson. “It’s been three games in four days, so we will take all the positives we can from the three wins and bring them to the quarterfinal.”
Latvian forward Zemgus Girgensons said they wanted to do their part to frustrate the Swedes. Keeping the score close and not relenting did just that. A moral victory will have to do for now.
Sweden finished the opening round undefeated and are set up to possibly be the top seed for the playoff round. As for Latvia, they didn’t win a game during round-robin play and are set up to face the No. 6 seed in the next round.
BUFFALO — Latvia coach Ted Nolan has an interesting choice on his hand as to who starts in goal at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. The favorites to get the job are 33-year Edgars Masalskis and Tampa Bay Lightning rookie Kristers Gudlevskis.
Nolan spoke with PHT before leaving for Sochi and while he wouldn’t tip his hand about who starts, one of them has grabbed his eye.
“Right now we’ll make that decision at that time,” Nolan said. “We’ve got one experienced goalie and one up-and-comer and he’s playing well. He’s big, he’s athletic. So we’ll see how it all transpires. We’ll make that decision after we have one pre-scrimmage with Russia when we get there. After that we’ll make the final decision.
Nolan spoke about how 21-year-old Gudlevskis is “learning his way” as a goalie but lauded his play of late with the Syracuse Crunch in the AHL.
Masalskis was the goalie who helped Latvia qualify for the Olympics in 2012, but it was Gudlevskis who shined and took the starting job from him at the 2013 World Championships.
If there’s anything Nolan knows how to handle from his time with the Buffalo Sabres this season it’s goaltending. Then again, getting to choose between Ryan Miller and Jhonas Enroth is a little bit different.