Latvians claim first IIHF win

Kaspars Daugaviņš (#16) opened the scoring for Latvia less than a minute in. Photo by Matthew Manor/HHOF-IIHF Images

MANNHEIM, Germany — Latvia have finally got their world championship campaign off the ground, defeating Italy 5-2 in the 2010 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) championship.

The game got off to the best possible start for the Latvian side when Kaspars Daugaviņš had his sides first goal from a face-off in the 50th second, giving his side the confidence they so desperately needed.

Throughout the remainder of the opening period both sides made their chances but it was only Italy who would benefit, scoring the equalizer in the 15th. It was a disappointing result for goalie Edgars Masaļskis who was looking to reinstall Oļegs Znaroks’ faith in him after the Latvian trainer pulled him in their previous game.

Italy upped the anti in the second period, increasing their shots on goal but Masaļskis had awoken from his early setback and in the end it was Latvia who were to benefit when Alexsandrs Ņiživijs added his side’s second eight minutes into the period.

Their lead was extended soon after the final period got underway with Arvids Rekis wasting no time in scoring his team’s third.

But when Italy quickly retaliated with their second they had their tails up as they began to press for the equalizer. It also assured a tense finish to the game, especially for the loyal Latvian fans who made up the majority of the crowd.

However they need not have worried with a late power-play undoing Italy. When Manuel De Toni was given two minutes holding with under three minutes remaining, Latvia pounced, using the resulting power-play to put the game beyond doubt with Kaspars Daugaviņš grabbing the goal.

Italy obviously thought they still had a chance of two late goals, pulling their goalie with time running out. But like it had for Latvia on Saturday evening, the plan backfired with Mārtiņš Karsums having no trouble netting his side’s fifth and final goal.

It is yet to be seen who Latvia will meet in the next stage of the championship which begins to move past pool play.

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