Latvian-born Gvido Jansons is ready to upset naysayers in ASU hockey's upcoming season

Part two of a two-part feature on ASU's first two Latvian-born hockey players

ASU men’s hockey entered a new era of play last year in their first full season as a Division I team. This promotion opened up new recruiting territory for the Sun Devils, bringing two Latvian-born players to ASU’s squad.

Those players are freshmen Gvido Jansons and Filips Buncis, both who were born in Latvia before being recruited from their respective North American Hockey League teams in Pennsylvania. 

Jansons’ hockey career began when he was only seven years old, and it did not take long for him to discover he belonged in the higher ranks of the sport.

“I usually played with older kids because I was way better than my age,” Jansons said. “Then, when I got even better than those older kids, I moved here.”

However, it was not just a need for better competition that led him to the U.S. at age 14 — it was the prospect of college hockey.

In 2006, the International Ice Hockey Federation held their tournament in the Latvia’s capital city of Riga, which was two hours away from Jansons' home.

“I went to a bunch of games. I watched Team USA play, Team Canada — all of those guys,” Jansons said. “They inspired me to play college hockey.”

ASU found Jansons years later on the Aston Rebels, a NAHL team located in Philadelphia, where he stood out as a candidate.

“He has a legitimate pro upside and was so highly regarded in every way by his junior coach,” head coach Greg Powers said in an email. “Gvido is a (6-foot-4, 210-pound) two-way (defenseman). He has tremendous feet for his size and can really skate and bomb it from the point.” 

In his two seasons with the Rebels, Jansons more than doubled his point production as he went from 20 points in 2016 to 46 points in 2017.

“I’m not always defense. I read a play and when I can go out, I do,” Jansons said. “I’ve gotten more confident over the years. I know what I can and can’t do.”

In addition to Jansons' confidence, his teammates are also assured of his capabilities.  

“Gvido (Janson) is the strongest player on the ice. He loves being physical,” Buncis said. “The opposing team has to be aware of his slap shot.”

Jansons has shown his potential for being an offensive-minded defenseman, as well as being a complete player behind the blue line. However, he is projected to accomplish much more in his time as a Sun Devil.

“He brings size, strength and makes us such a deeper team than we were,” Powers said. “He is an incredibly high character kid. I could not be happier he is a part of our program.”

Beyond that, Jansons has his own prediction for what he will achieve in his hockey career at ASU.

“There have been many people that said I can’t do anything with hockey,” Jansons said. “I’ll just keep proving them wrong.”

Reach the reporter at or follow @paige_burnell on Twitter.   

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