RIGA – With a few days left before hosting the Final Olympic Qualification Group E, the Latvian men’s national team got a new head coach. Haralds Vasiljevs replaces Leonids Beresnevs.
Beresnevs, who led the Latvian national team since last season, resigned due to personal reasons and will not lead the team at the Final Olympic Qualification as previously foreseen.
In his place Vasiljevs was named new national coach for the tournament. He met his new team on Sunday at the preparation camp that currently consists of 30 candidates including his son, long-time national team member Herberts Vasiljevs.
The 64-year-old was the head coach of the national team for two seasons. He led the team at the 2000 and 2001 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships and in 2001 in Klagenfurt, Austria, the Latvians qualified for the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City under his guidance.
A former player of Dinamo Riga in the top Soviet league, Vasiljevs was also coaching Krefeld Pinguine in the top German league and is currently the head coach of Zemgale/LLU in the top Latvian league.
Latvia will play an exhibition game against Denmark on Tuesday in Riga before hosting the Final Olympic Qualification Group E at Arena Riga from Thursday to Sunday with Germany, Austria and Japan as the other participants.
Latvia has earned its spot in Olympic ice hockey by winning an Olympic Qualification tournament four consecutive times, the last three times on home ice in Riga.