Article: Latvia had a surprisingly good showing at the 2012 U18 World Juniors, and will be looking to build on that at the 2013 edition of this tournament.
Last year, Latvia participated in the U18 World Junior Championship for the first time since getting promoted from Division I in 2011. Many experts and journalists expected the Baltic state to fight to keep themselves in the elite group, but Latvians took their mission to another level.
Photo: London Knights defenseman and 2013 draft prospect Nikita Zadorov is preparing for his team's OHL Conference Championship series with Plymouth (courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images)
“La Femme Nikita” is the story of a secret assassin who works in the shadows. Le “blueliner” Nikita, London Knights' Nikita Zadorov, has no such anonymity. After all, at 6’7” with a propensity for big hits and a big shot, it’s hard to miss the Russian defenseman.
Photo: At 6-5 and 202 pounds, Russian forward Bogdan Yakimov possesses the type of size that NHL teams currently covet in a forward prospect (courtesy of Derek Leung/Getty Images)
Considered one of the top birth years in Russian hockey, the 1995 class has seen several of the top players leave Russia to play Major Junior Hockey in North America, a fact that is reflected in this list of 2013 prospects.
Photo: Baie-Comeau Drakkar forward Valentin Zykov (#73), shown here playing for Team Cherry at the 2013 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, has been steadily rising up the rankings for the 2013 NHL Draft (courtesy of Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
Valentin Zykov might be a Russian playing junior hockey for a Quebec-based team, but the burly right winger proved he belonged on Team Cherry during the 2013 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game this week.
Photo: Minnesota State forward and Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Teddy Bluegers was not as productive as he would like to have been for Latvia at the 2013 WJC (courtesy of Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)
In spite of expectations before the tournament, Team Latvia was relegated to next year's WJC Division 1, Group A tournament. Icing what was considered their best roster in recent years wasn't enough, however, as the deciding game against Team Germany finished with a 5-2 score.