Recently, we had a chance to catch up with Latvian Under-18 National Team goalie Mareks Mitens. He had one of the most eye-opening performances of the tournament with a 43 save effort in an overtime loss to Sweden. His Latvian side was nineteen seconds away from beating an Alex Nylander lead Swedish side in regulation. A win there probably gives the Latvian side a quarterfinals entry. Mitens helped his side avoid relegation with a shootout win over Denmark in the deciding game three.He came off of the bench just to play the shootout which is quite impressive. Check out some highlights of his work at the link below.
Latvia vs. Sweden
Here are the Latvian netminder’s answers to our questions.
What is your favorite memory of the season?
“1) I had a serious groin injury this season,so i didn’t play a lot. And because of that this championship is the best memory i have for this season.”
What was a high and a low of the tournament?
2) “One of the best moments for sure was game against Sweden. Sadly that we lost it,but that game gave as confidence. But the best moment was last game against Danes. Where we came back from being down by 2 goals and won it in SO. It was an amazing feeling when I stopped the last shot. That game showed that we are a really team and we are going to stand up for each other.”
“Lowest points for us was probably games against USA and Russia. Probably we were too confident and those teams put us back in place where we belong. For me,the game agais Russia was the weakest. Not sure why,but that day just was unlucky for us.”
What was favorite thing you did in Grand Forks besides playing hockey?
3)”We didn’t do anything much besides hockey. Just went shopping and that’s it. But it was much different than Europe. It was nice to see a college lifestyle,just like in movies.”
What are your pro hockey goals for next year and beyond ?
4)”Not sure right now about my future, when i get back home, i will talk with my agent and then know something more. But for sure my goal is to make NCAA Division 1 Hockey and after that to play in NHL,as every hockey player”.
What where your thoughts on the overall tournament experience in Grand Forks ?
5) “It was a great tournament with a highly skilled players and teams. I played last year in U18 too, and thought this year it wont surprise me,but teams were really good, enjoyed watching other games and most important thing, playing against some of the best teams and future NHL stars. It was an amazing experience. ”
What NHL goalie do you model your game after?
6) “It is not like I’m watching one goalie and trying to play like him. I try to watch every goalie and pick a bit from everyone. I love the watching old goalies like Hasek and Brodeur. Cause these goalies were battling for every puck,and it doesn’t matter for them how they stopped the puck.”
What was your favorite aspect of your team at the tournament this year ?
7) “I really liked that we were like a family, there was a connection with us. But players really helped each other. They blocked so many shots, if someone made a mistake, other ones was trying to cheer them up. The team spirit is what i liked the most.”
What is your favorite non hockey hobby?
8) “Besides hockey I love travelling. I’ve been in so many countries and there is a lot of countries I still want to visit. In free time I watch a lot of movies or tv series. I’m a big fan of Blacklist. And i like solving puzzles or doing some brain games.”
What is the biggest improvement to your game you have made the past year ?
9) “The biggest improvement for me,this season, was that I started playing and practicing smarter. I didn’t rush on anything. Hard work can lead you to injuries. Thats the reason I had an injury. After the injury I started practicing smarter, and Im feeling better now. and I became mentally stronger.”