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Former Kelowna Rocket to carry Latvia’s flag at 2022 Winter Olympics

A former Kelowna Rocket will help carry his country’s flag at the opening ceremonies of the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics.

Lauris Darzins of Latvia, who played two seasons with Kelowna and suits up for Dinamo Riga in the KHL, and luge athlete Eliza Tiruma were named as their country’s flag bearers on Tuesday.

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The announcement was made on the IIHF’s Twitter account.

A six-foot-three-inch forward, Darzins played for Kelowna during the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons, tallying 32 goals and 35 assists for 67 points in 100 regular-season games.

In 30 playoff games, he had 12 goals and eight assists for 20 points.

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Darzins, now 37, is the captain of Dinamo Riga, his hometown team. He will also be Latvia’s captain during the Olympics.

The right-handed shot was selected in the ninth round, 268th overall, by Nashville in the 2003 draft. He became a professional player in the fall of 2006, joining a Finnish team, Ilves Tampere, before jumping to the Czech league for two seasons.

Since 2009-10, Darzins has played in the KHL, and is now his ninth season with Dinamo Riga. This season, he has three goals and 15 assists for 18 points in 36 games.

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The 2022 Beijing Games will be Darzins’ third time representing Latvia at the Olympics.

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Latvia’s first game will be Feb. 10 against Sweden, the same day Canada plays Germany.

Canada is in Group A, along with the U.S., Germany and China. Latvia is in Group C with Finland, Sweden and Slovakia. Group B is comprised of Russia, the Czech Republic, Switzerland and Denmark.

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