Oddsmakers see Latvia as long shot in ice hockey against Russia

Perhaps the most anticipated event for Latvian fans of the Winter Olympics—a preliminary round match between the men’s ice hockey teams of Latvia and Russia—gets under way the evening of Feb. 16 in Vancouver.

However, the hopes for Latvia are dim, according to the oddsmakers of several online sports betting sites.

The game will be Latvia’s first in the 2010 Olympic Games. Each of the 12 countries in the men’s ice hockey competition—including heavily favored Canada—start out in one of three preliminary round groups. Latvia, part of Group B, must play Russia, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Oddsmaker.com has Latvia as the long shot. A USD 100 bet on Latvia winning the Group B preliminary round could yield a payout of USD 10,000—if the impossible were to happen. The question mark for Russia, according to BetUS, is the calibre of its defense.

According to Olympic rules, the 12 teams will be ranked after the preliminary round and the top four will advance to the quarter-finals. The remaining eight teams will have to compete for the other four spots in the quarter-finals.

The Latvia vs. Russia game begins at 9 p.m. PST in Canada Hockey Place in Vancouver.

Latvia is scheduled to play the Czech Republic on Feb. 19 and Slovakia on Feb. 20.

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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