MANNHEIM, Germany— Latvia was mauled by Canada on Monday evening, going down 6-1 in the world championship encounter.
While Latvia overcome an early setback to look like they would be able to match it with the Canadians, a mediocre second period by the Latvians put the game beyond doubt for the Canadians.
Canada opened the scoring in just the second minute after an early onslaught had Latvia reeling. However, Latvia were quick to recover and soon had Canada backpedaling at the other end of the ice. In spite of their offensive efforts they could penetrate the Canadian goal and when Canada were able to strike again late in the period Latvia found themselves facing a 2-0 deficit.
Soon after resumption of play Latvia were in further dire straits when Canada scored a further 3 goals within the opening ten minutes to go up 5-0. This called for drastic measures from coach Oļegs Znaroks, pulling his star goalie Edgars Masaļskis from the ice.
This appeared to be the wake up call his team needed, with the Latvian defense in particular lifting their games to assist their relatively inexperienced goalie Martins Raitums. It would have left Znaroks pondering what could have been if the call had been made earlier.
Although the flow of goals was stemmed, Canada were still able to get more before the period was finished, seeing Latvia facing a 6-0 deficit going into the final period.
To the relief of Latvian fans their team were able to put the previous period behind them and begin to play the hockey their fans know they are capable off. The Canadian offense was well accounted for by the Latvian defensive line, giving their offense freedom to roam with the puck at the opposite end.
Latvia were able to avoid the shutout when they finally got on the board through Gerogijs Pujacs with ten minutes remaining.
For the remainder of the game Latvia pushed hard for a second but none was forthcoming.
Latvia will take the ice for their third game on Wednesday, when they will be hoping to finally record their first win of the championships. Their opponents in the game will be Italy, who are sitting in the same position of having not yet recorded a win.
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