19-Year-Old Latvian Hockey Player Suspended for Hitting Opponent on the Face

Published 01/07/2024, 7:34 AM EST

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In the high-speed world of international junior ice hockey, 19-year-old prodigy, Dans Locmelis has been gaining momentum. Having a crucial role in leading the Latvian team to the peak of success, the player has shown exceptional talent in the sport. However, Locmelis now stands at the crossroads of an uncertain future with a suspension from the disciplinary panel. 

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The unfortunate incident transpired during the 2024 IIHF Ice Hockey World Junior Championship, involving a quarterfinal clash between the USA and Latvia. The decision came as the aftermath of an illegal check by the Latvian player and USA’s Ryan Leonard.

Locmelis suspension following a reckless hit

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As per the reports, during Game 23, between the USA and Latvia, a critical moment unfolded at 55:23 in the third period. An illegal check executed by Locmelis hit the head of Ryan Leonard which in turn prompted the Championship Disciplinary Panel to intervene. 

Per their verdict, the hit was deemed reckless and targeted a vulnerable opponent playing in a defenseless position. According to the Official Playing Rule 48, the attack involved the opponent’s head as the primary point of contact. With this, the panel confirmed the clear violation of the rule that propelled Locmelis toward a fallout. 

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However, the disciplinary panel’s assessment landed the Latvian player with a two-game suspension. Team Latvia faced back-to-back failures due to the 2024 IIHF World Junior Championship suspension. In addition, they even lost to USA in the quarterfinal which came with a score of 7-2.   

Impact and implication of fallout

Locmelis would no longer be eligible as per the age criteria for the following year’s World Juniors. Hence, this suspension will affect his participation in the initial two games during the upcoming championship. Besides Locmelis’ performance, the team dynamics of the Latvian ice hockey squad have been altered. 

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The impact has transcended beyond the immediate tournament since he will be barred from competing in the first two preliminary round games in the 2024 IIHF World Championship. The team has been crestfallen to be not able to safeguard their player, who gifted them with a game-winning goal against Austria in 2023.

He was the only player competing from ten nations to have won a bronze medal at the IIHF Men’s World Championship in Tampere last year. From the peak of his success to not being able to take part in the roster for the 2024 championship came as a blow for the ice hockey community. 

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Dans Locmelis will be carrying over the suspension to the 2025 IIHF World Championship, underscoring the importance of fair play in international ice hockey. The commitment of the panel to ensuring the safety and maintaining the integrity of the game upholds the sportsmanship spirit of the league. Not compromising the well-being of other players for the sake of one renowned player, the disciplinary action against Locmelis emphasized the significance of responsible play.  

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Written by:

Soheli Tarafdar

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One take at a time

Hey there! I am on a wild ride as a Viral Sports Writer here at EssentiallySports! With a shiny masters in English under my belt, my academic journey has been a cornerstone for my evolution as a wordsmith. My heart always had a soft spot for creative writing, and my fascination with American sports just seemed like a perfect match. But one sport that makes my heart race like no other is Ice Hockey.
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Edited by:

Arnima Shukla

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