University of Alaska Fairbanks goaltender Gustavs Grigals was added Thursday to Team Latvia’s roster for the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships, which run today through May 26 in Bratislava-Kosice, Slovakia.
Grigals, who’s entering his sophomore season for the Nanooks, played with Latvia’s junior national team. The native of Riga, Latvia, participated in a training camp on the way to being named to his home country’s 22-man roster for the IIHF World Championships.
“The first week of camp was really hard. We did a lot of skating and conditioning on top of trying to adapt to professional shots,” Grigals said in a UAF news release Thursday. “After that, we focused more on breakouts and special teams.
“I have to give a big thank you to UAF for helping me get to where I am right now. They helped me finish my academic semester here in Latvia while I was trying out at camp.”
Grigals is among three netminders for Latvia, which is playing in the world tournament in Group B with the Czech Republic, Austria, Italy, Norway, Russia, Sweden and Switzerland. Group A is comprised of the United States, Canada, Denmark Germany, Great Britian, France and Finland.
Latvia opens the worlds against Austria at 8 a.m. AKDT Saturday. A complete schedule of the tournament is available at bit.ly/2HcDPU9.
As a Nanooks freshman last season, Grigals appeared in 14 games and compiled a 5-6-1-1 record with a 3.33 goals against average and .900 saves percentage.
He made 367 saves while facing 408 shots.
Grigals earned his first collegiate win and the Nanooks’ first victory of the season after stopping 19 shots in a 4-3 victory over Lake Superior State in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association game Nov. 10 in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.
Grigals’ selection to Team Latvia makes him the third player in nine years who is connected to the Nanooks and participating in the world championships.
Former Nanooks Chad Johnson (goaltender) and Colton Parayko (defenseman) played with Canada in the 2017 world championships in Cologne, Germany and Paris. Johnson also played in the 2010 tournament in Mannheim, Germany.
Both are now playing in the NHL.
Parayko is with the St. Louis Blues, who face the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference championship series of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Johnson, a 10-year NHL veteran, recently completed his first season with the Anaheim Ducks.
Contact News-Miner sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586. Follow him on Twitter:@newsminersports.