Irbe inducted into hockey hall of fame

As we reported in December, popular goaltender Arturs Irbe has been named to the International Ice Hockey Federation’s Hall of Fame. Now it is official: Irbe and four other persons were inducted May 23 during a ceremony in Cologne, Germany.

Irbe, who now is the goaltending coach for the Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League, became the second Latvian to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Helmuts Balderis—who played for the Soviet Olympic team, Dinamo Rīga and, briefly, the Minnesota North Stars—was inducted in 1988.

Irbe, known by fans as “The Wall,” began his carrer in the 1980s in Soviet-occupied Latvia. Among his achievements was helping the Carolina Hurricanes get to the 2002 Stanley Cup finals.

“Perhaps Irbe’s proudest moment, however, came when he dressed for his native Latvia for the first time, in the 1996 IIHF B Pool World Championship,” according to an IIHF biography of Irbe. “He led Latvia to promotion to the top division and the country has never looked back.”

The induction ceremony came during the close of the 2010 IIHF World Championship, which was won by the Czech Republic. The Czechs defeated Russia 2-1 for the gold medal. Latvia finished 11th overall.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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