Latvia hockey jersey

Fredericton hockey coach Tom Coolen says watching his Latvian team play Canada was exciting. (

Wednesday's close Canada-Latvia Olympic men's hockey game was one a Fredericton coach will never forget.

Tom Coolen, acting assistant coach with the Latvian team, watched as his squad gave the strongly-favoured Canadians a scare before eventually losing 2-1.

Coolen says he had mixed emotions while sitting behind the Latvian bench.

"You know, here I am. It's Canada, we're playing team Canada. And you look at the roster, and being a Canadian guy, a coach all my life, and for me personally it was just so exciting."

Coolen has been working with the Latvian team for two years with Ted Nolan, who is now the head coach of the NHL's Buffalo Sabres.

Coolen says despite his team's loss, they were greeted as heroes when they arrived at the Latvian airport earlier Thursday.

"It was unbelievable. At the airport they opened the doors and we came out. The place was just jammed with people and family and it was really, really ... I was just blown away by it," said Coolen.