Graz99ers striker Zintis Zusevics has a dream – the home World Championship 2022 in his native Latvia.
Since his junior years 2009-10 Zintis Nauris Zusevics, as his full name, is at the Graz. The first two seasons at Graz II take turns at the 99ers in the U20. In the meantime, he was called up in the U17 and U18 of Latvia. The 24-year-old striker has developed positively in recent years, mixing up the league with his team this year. On Friday in the top match at the Captials a 5-3 win retracted, which means the championship lead. Should that remain so after the last round, the 99ers play for the first time in the Champions Hockey League. After the game, Zintis was available for a conversation.
Baltics Media: Zintis, congratulations on this great success in Vienna, at the same time the championship leader. What does that mean to you?
Zintis Zusevics: „Very much, who would have thought that we are first round one lap before the end of the first round. Winning in Vienna is always very nice, it was an important game. The two best teams in the league met each other. At the moment everything is going great. We scored more goals today, that’s why we won.“
BM: You play with former NHL players, Hamilton, Loney. Also with Dwight King, who won the Stanley Cup. Can you take something as a young player?
ZZ: „Yeah, that’s not a question. But he is as human as I am, not a superstar. He is quite normal, you can ask him anything, how was it in the NHL etc. That’s great for me, as a young player I can learn a lot. That’s why playing with such players in a team is always nice.“
BM: You’ve developed a lot in the last few years, I suppose you feel comfortable in Graz.
ZZ: „Yes, now with this coach I play a lot, get a lot of confidence and I really enjoy ice hockey. Now I am 24 and I start to play ice hockey and not just sit.“(laughs)
BM: You played a lot of games in the Latvian U17 and U18 National Team. Is the topic „National Team“ basically interesting for you? With 24 that’s the right age to be recommended.
ZZ: „Of course that’s an issue for me. I’ll wait and see if anything comes. In two years the World Cup will be in Latvia and it would be a dream to play for Latvia. I do not know if it will work this year, I will continue to work on myself and wait to see if I get a chance.“
BM: Where will the journey go with Graz, looks very good at the moment. The decision will be made on the final day of the match. Even the Champions Hockey League waving, was that a goal?
ZZ: „The goal was not. The last year was not so successful in Graz, so the top 6 and the play-offs. That’s what we did, so we looked further, third, second and now we all come first and if we play Champions League, that’s certainly a high-light.“
BM: Both teams have to win on Sunday – although both opponents – Dornbirn and Innsbruck – have lost.
ZZ: „It will not be easy for both, both Dornbirn and Innsbruck need the points. And away is not always easy, we lost in Dornbirn last. It’s going to be a tough game, like today. We know that if we lose and we win the caps the Champions Hockey League is not there either. That’s why we have to give more than 100% and look to win.“
BM: Zintis, thanks for the interview, all the best for Sunday and should your wish come true with the team.