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Claimed:The Lanky Latvian: Ivars Klajums [10/10 FINAL]


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RIGA, Latvia --- Klajums, #50 makes a pad save for the Latvian U20 international team



Late Blooming


For Ivars, his childhood was a blur. "It was hard. Grew up with four other rascals, and being the oldest you obviously have to be the 'third parent'. My dad worked out in a mine and my mother had the least envious job, taking care of us. We weren't well off, but life was okay. I worked as soon as I could, and tried to do my best with my work and schooling." For him, at the age of eleven is when he learned he loved hockey. He moved to Canada with his parents so they could pursue further work. They settled down in Smithers, BC. "Down the block the kids set up games pretty much every other day of street hockey, I was a pretty shy kid so I just watched, but my dad came home with a hockey stick and it just happened from there. I played D the first time I think, I was so bad that they, kindly, persuaded me to go into the net. I was pretty terrible, as you can expect." 


For him, it was his best friend, a kid he met from his school that helped him get better. "At first I wasn't a huge fan of hockey, but I visited his house all the time," he recalled his times with a laugh, "He was a rabid Canucks fan. I believe that's the season when Luongo was traded from Florida to the Canucks, and watching him was astounding. He was a stone wall, and I started to model him when we played. Without padding, may I add. Lots of scraped knees." He wouldn't get into organized hockey until he was fourteen, starting first as a defenseman.




He only played goalie at the age of 16 when he subbed in for his local junior team when their goaltender came down with the flu. "I think it was kind of natural. I was a defenseman and I'd always wanted to try goaltending on ice." He remembered a very lost locker room as he recalled his first game on the ice in an exhibition as a wide eyed rookie with a smirk, "We all had fun with it. A few of the vets on our team had left so we knew it wasn't going to be too great of a season. I think the score was around 8-2." He chuckled while remembering the game, "8 goals may be generous." 


Though that season he turned out a sub-.900 SV%, he felt he had a strong season afterwards, playing a few games as their de-facto backup from then on. "We nearly made the playoffs but lost two straight at the end and ended up missing. But I learned a lot. And I matured a lot," When I asked him about his decision to join the Victoria Royals he said, "It was another one of those big moves for me, but not as bad as moving from Latvia to Smithers. It was a lot larger of a town." In the WHL is where the young Ivars really made his mark. Posting a .932 SV%, 1.74 GAA in the WHL, the 114th overall CHL Import Draft selection was named to the J20 Latvia team and continued to prosper in his campaign. He has continued on his torrid pace in his second season in the WHL, posting a .962 SV% and a .84 GAA in his first 8 starts.


He has expressed interest in the VHLM and has since been on Waivers with the Bern Royals already in line to claim him, "I certainly feel lucky. There's a lot of goaltenders in that league and it certainly provides a logjam, though I see an opportunity in Bern to really make an impact right out of the gate and that's what excites me. They're a pretty good team, though they're obviously missing the two stars they traded. I hope I can step in and turn it around, or atleast make an impact. I'll probably have some struggles out of the gate and I'll have to accept that, but I feel through my experiences I can add something to the team." When I asked him about the draft he told me that he wasn't worried about it, he has his first game in the VHLM to take care of. From there, who knows where he'll go.


Player Assessment



  • Size

The first thing you see when you watch Ivars is clearly his size. He stands tall at 6'4", and he uses his big frame to his advantage. He keeps his shoulders high and his legs far apart so his lower half looks wide and his upper half looks tall. In this sense he is a pure butterfly, but his fast reflexes allow him to cheat up a little to take away the top half of the net and leave his five hole open a little only to shut it quick with his pads.

  • Positioning

Klajums understands the game extremely well, following the play and predicting the play in a way similar to NHL goaltender Ryan Miller. This allows him to recognize what players are about to do, often making cross-crease plays look easy and taking away rebound chances by recognizing where pucks are going and why they're put there the way they are.

  • Reflexes

Just as he reads the play well, he reacts to the play well. Some around him say that he sees the game a second faster than the average player, and he's very agile with his pads, glove and blocker. He maneuvres the crease very well with his strong, springy legs and most pucks along the ice don't pass through him.



  • Discipline

He is a slow starter to both seasons and games, his 1st periods are reputably his worst. Sometimes he is on and off during games much to the frustration of coaches, but one thing that goes his way is when it's a close game or a pressure situation, he usually seems to shine. When he is at his best he is in a light, humorous mood, and sometimes even dances to the game. When he is at his worst he lets stinkers frustrate him and that often leads to more stinkers.

  • Glove Side

As with many pure butterfly goaltenders, he sometimes cheats low too much and lets in a high side glove shot that shouldn't get past him. Good shooters sometimes pick him apart and that's when you'll see him struggle most.

  • One-on-Ones

He is an atrocious shootout goalie, and he's not too great in breakaways either. He comes out far and sometimes if he cheats on a movement by the shooter he's unable to recover. He's prone to try the flashy save and sometimes he could stand to simplify things on a breakaway.

Edited by RMiner57
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Overview- 3/3 - This was really nice. A detailed but not overbearing coverage of all of the steps of your progress.

Grammar- 2/2 -

the kids set up games pretty much every other day of street hockey -- Just reorder this a bit: the kids set up games of street hockey pretty much every day.

Waivers -- waivers, on technically you were claimed off of waivers, not still on. 

maneuvres - google seach tells me this isn't wrong, just an alternative way of spelling maneuvers -- but it is weird ha, never seen it like that. 

Presentation- 1/1 - I really appreciate your styling of the pros/cons, top notch.

Pros- 2/2 - These both look great, and read great also. Good work.

Cons- 2/2 - See above.

Overall- 10/10

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