DEFENSEMAN PLAYS FOR CAROLINA’S AHL AFFILIATE
RALEIGH, NC (Jan. 9, 2002) -
Jim Rutherford, CEO and General Manager of the National Hockey League Carolina Hurricanes, announced today that Hurricanes prospect Kaspars Astashenko has been selected to the Latvian Olympic team. Astashenko, a defenseman who plays for Carolina’s American Hockey League affiliate in Lowell, Mass., will join Hurricanes goaltender Arturs Irbe and defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh on the Latvian squad.
Astashenko, 26, has played three games for the Lowell Lock Monsters since being acquired by the Hurricanes organization from the Tampa Bay Lightning on Dec. 28 in exchange for defenseman Harlan Pratt. Prior to the trade, Astashenko (6’3’’, 185 lbs.) had played 11 games with Springfield of the AHL this season, totaling two points (0g, 2a) and 15 penalty minutes. The Riga, Latvia native has 23 games of NHL experience with Tampa Bay, accumulating three points (1g, 2a) and 8 penalty minutes in parts of the 1999-2000 and 2000-2001 seasons. He has now played 206 minor league games with 47 points (10g, 37a) and 341 penalty minutes. Astashenko was Tampa Bay’s fifth round pick (127th overall) in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft.
The 2002 Men’s Olympic hockey tournament will be played in Salt Lake City in two phases: a preliminary round and a final round. Between Feb. 9 and Feb. 13, eight teams will play three games each. Latvia can advance to the tournament’s final round if it wins Group A, which also includes Slovakia, Austria and Germany.
Astashenko will leave Lowell following the Lock Monsters’ home game against Portland on Feb. 4. He will be able to participate in all three of Latvia’s qualifying round games and will miss three of Lowell’s AHL league games. Irbe and Ozolinsh, both natives of Latvia’s capital city of Riga, may join their national team for Latvia’s games on Feb. 9 against Austria and Feb. 12 against Germany. The Hurricanes have games at Anaheim on Feb. 8 and at San Jose on Feb. 10. Irbe and Ozolinsh will miss Latvia’s qualifier on Feb. 10 against Slovakia due to the conflict with Carolina’s game at San Jose.