MANNHEIM, Germany — Although buoyed by Sunday’s win against Norway, Latvia lost 3-1 to the Czech Republic Monday evening and are out of the International Ice Hockey Foundation championship.
It was Latvia’s third-straight top-12 performance in the IIHF, an alright showing but a disappointment for the the hockey-mad but tiny country that made it to the top 8 last year.
The pressure was on Latvian goalie Edgars Masaļskis with the Czech offense dominating in the first period. However, Masaļskis helped renew Oļegs Znaroks’ faith in him by not letting a puck go past the nets until 2:21 in the second period despite the lopsided puck control.
The Czechs then scored again near the end of the second period, while the Latvians struggled to get the puck out of their zone.
“We stayed alive in the first period, but then we allowed two short-handed goals and that’s why we lost it,” Masaļskis said at the post-game press conference.
In the middle of the third period Lauris Dārziņš nearly managed to slide one in but the puck bounced of the rail, and it was not until Sergejs Pečura finally nailed one with 7:55 left in the game that Latvia got on the scoreboard.
However, the Latvians answered back with another goal in the last minute.
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