The Stockton Record
Maris Ziedins likely will play his last game in the 2006 Olympics on Tuesday. But even if his team is eliminated, he will leave with a special memory.
Ziedins, a forward for the Stockton Thunder, scored a goal against an NHL goalie. It was the highlight of his Olympic experience, and he and his teammates will need plenty of help if they are going to get out of pool play and advance to the quarterfinals.
Latvia must not only beat Kazakhstan today, but also needs to make up a 14-goal differential on the United States, which plays Russia.
“Technically, we still have a slim chance,” Ziedins said. “We’ll see what happens.”
Ziedins’ big moment came in Latvia’s 6-1 loss to Sweden. In the third period, he beat goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who plays for the New York Rangers.
“It obviously felt great to score on an NHL goalie,” Ziedins said. “It’s funny, because the last time our national teams met, we lost 9-1 and I had the only goal for our team again.
“I guess I’ve got something against the Swedes, but I can’t think of anything.”
Latvia began the Olympics by tying the United States 3-3 but has struggled in the ensuing games. But despite some difficulties on the ice, he’s thoroughly enjoyed his Olympic experience.
“The atmosphere here in the (Olympic Village) is so unique and so international,” Ziedins said. “Every day walking around the village, I see athletes who usually can be seen only on TV. At the cafeteria, I stood in the same line for pasta with Joe Sakic and Rob Blake of the Colorado Avalanche, and Teemu Selanne, who plays for the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, sat right next to our table.”
Ziedins is scheduled to return to the Thunder on Saturday, when Stockton plays host to the Bakersfield Condors.
Ziedins should be back in Stockton several hours before the game. He is not currently on the active roster, but Thunder coach Chris Cichocki could make the move before he returns.
“I haven’t decided yet, but it’s likely we’ll activate him and see if he’s good to go,” Cichocki said. “He should be proud of what he has accomplished at the Olympics, and we’re proud of him.”