2022 World Junior Championship Team Latvia Final Roster

Latvia will participate in the Under 20 (U20) World Junior Championship (WJC) this summer after Russia was expelled from the tournament due to the ongoing invasion of Ukraine. They last played in the top tournament in 2017 before being relegated to Division IA and have participated six previous times – their first appearance was in 2006. The IIHF said no team will be relegated from this 2022 WJC to be held in Edmonton from Aug. 9-20.

The Latvian U20 National Team will play in Group B with Canada, Finland, Czechia and Slovakia. Meanwhile, Sweden, the United States, Switzerland, Germany and Austria will compete in Group A.

Latvia will begin their return on Aug. 9 with a fight against Team Finland. A day later, they will meet host Canada, and on Aug. 12, they will face Slovakia. The tournament will end with a game on Aug. 14 against Czechia.

Forwards

Roger Bucart, Emīls Veckaktiņš, Robert Zjunski, Oscar Lapinsky, Raivis Ansons, Martins Laviņš, Raimonds Vītoliņš, Felix Gavar, Darrell Dukur, Rainer Darwin, Ģirts Silkalns, Arthur Karasha, Kristaps Kristiņš, Rainer Ruller, Dan Lochmel, Sandis Vilmanis, Klav Weinberg, Peter Purmalis, Daniel Anderson, Henri Ravinsky, Danila Naumov

The Pittsburgh Penguins‘ 2020 fifth-round pick, Raivis Ansons, split this past season between the Baie-Comeau Drakkar and St-John’s Sea Dogs, putting up 60 points in 56 games. He then kept up his point-per-game pace in the Quebec Major Junior League (QMJHL) Playoffs and Memorial Cup tournament.

The 6-foot-1, 192-pound winger has good size and some physicality, and it appears a very good compete level. If all of that comes together, it could make him that valuable lower-line winger who excels on the forecheck and rounds out a team by being a reliable player all over the ice and on the penalty kill.

Ansons will surely rely on his experience winning the 2022 Memorial Cup Championship to help him compete in this tournament, and Latvia’s offence will depend on him.

Anri Ravinskis is a 19-year-old, 6-foot-2, 190-pound winger who is still undrafted. He will likely form an offensive duo with Ansons. With 16 goals in 57 games for the QMJHL’s Blainville-Boisbriand, Armada is the other top forward on his team in this tournament. His ability to play with speed, play hard along the boards and take shots by the dozen will make him a key forward for this group.

Defence

Nick Fenenko, Bogdan Hodas, Harry Brant, Richard Simanovich, Peter Buchanan, Daniel Gorshanov, Robert Anderson, Dario Mackiewicz, Martins Krūklītis, Ralph Bergmann, Gustavs Ozolins

The Latvian team will rely heavily on moving the puck up and out of their zone with mobility and quick puck movement to defend. It will also play a key role in the generation of any offence for this squad. Nick Fenenko, a 6-foot-1, 176-pound left-handed defenseman, will be their go-to defenceman to do this. He has experience playing this style of game, and in all situations, scoring 40 points in 62 games with Acadie-Bathurst Titan of the QMJHL. He has also shown an ability to pinch and apply pressure over all 200 feet of the ice, and his tight gaps and mobility make it very hard for the opposition to create offence or keep possession in the offensive zone. At only 18, he will be the top defender for Latvia, and a good showing in this tournament could help his standing in the 2023 NHL Draft.

Related: 2022 Guide To the World Junior Championship

The other half of the top Latvian defensive pairing is Bogdan Hodas, the 6-foot-3, 203-pound left-hander who played heavy minutes in all situations for the Western Hockey League’s (WHL) Medicine Hat Tigers. The undrafted 19-year-old can also play both the left and right side. Last season, he scored 24 points in 57 games on a weak Medicine Hat squad. As such, Latvia will rely on his mobility and accurate first pass to launch their transition game. More importantly, he will be looked to for solid defensive play.

Goaltending

Bruno Brewer, Linard Lipsky, Karlis Forester, Patrick Berzins, Rūdolfs Lazdiņš

The Latvian goaltending competition will be strong in this tournament. Kārlis Mežsargs will be joining the Tri-City Storm this coming season, but before he does, he will play for his national team at the WJC. He has international experience, playing in the U18 WJC and was the starter versus the eventual 2021 gold medalist, Team Canada. At 18 years old, he has the opportunity to gain enough experience to become the team’s future starter, and with no team being relegated from this field, it won’t be surprising if the coaching staff gives him a start.

Canada v Latvia: Group B - 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship
Team Latvia celebrates the victory after the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship group stage game between Canada and Latvia at Arena Riga on May 21, 2021, in Riga, Latvia. (Photo by EyesWideOpen/Getty Images)

However, 20-year-old Bruno Brūveris will likely be Latvia’s starter. After all, he led them in the U20 Division One WJC with a .939 save percentage and a 4-1 record. He also has experience playing in the Kontinental Hockey League, which should help, especially against stronger nations like Canada, which will be filled with players that have played professional style hockey in the Canadian Hockey League as well as participating in NHL development camps.

Bottom Line

While it is a small hockey nation, Latvia is not just happy to be there. They are a proud nation with a rabid love of the game; anyone who has watched an international game featuring Latvia will know their fans sing and dance throughout the game, regardless of the score. That being said, they are there to try to become part of the upper echelon of hockey nations, and a good showing at the WJC will go a long way in that effort. However, if the Latvians hope to surprise in this tournament and earn a spot in the Quarter-Final, their goaltending will need to steal a game or two.

Team CanadaPreviewRoster
Team USAPreviewRoster
Team AustriaPreviewRoster
Team CzechiaPreviewRoster
Team FinlandPreviewRoster
Team GermanyPreviewRoster
Team LatviaPreviewRoster
Team SlovakiaPreviewRoster
Team SwedenPreviewRoster
Team SwitzerlandPreviewRoster

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