Latvia gives Canada something to talk about

  • 2005-05-04
  • By Julia Balandina
RIGA - The Latvian national hockey team lost to world champion Canada 6-4 on April 30 at the IIHF World Championship in Innsbruck, Austria. But they put up a good fight.

Latvia's first two scores came during painful giveaways on the part of Canada. As always, the Latvian crowd was whipping itself into a drum-beating, foot-stomping frenzy. But less than three minutes into the game, Brendan Morrison blew a slap shot past Edgars Masalskis from the face-off circle to the goalie's right, giving Canada the early lead and silencing the crowd for a few seconds.

Far from unnerved by the score, the Latvians picked up the tempo and struck less than a minute later when Canada lost the puck in the corner. This created a two on one close-in, where Leonids Tambijevs made a great pass to Aleksandrs Semjenovs to tie the game. The second period began the same way.

After briefly being hemmed in by the Latvians, Canada attacked for another power-play goal. Latvia tied the score by intercepting goalie Martin Brodeur's clearing pass. Alone near the goal, Girts Arkipans sent the puck into its open side, but Brodeur reached across to grab it. Latvia claimed that the glove was inside the net when he reached back, and video replay confirmed their hopes, tying the score at 2-2.

Canada took control in the second period with a power play and opened a 4 -2 lead.

"We played them last week and I think we've taken a big step since then," Latvian Head Coach Leonids Beresnevs said.

The backbreaker came two minutes later when Canada's Rick Nash stormed the length of the ice down the right side with Karlis Skrastins draped over him. Nash slid the puck in just as he was being pulled down. The star player scored a total of three goals for the winners.

A wild third period ensued in which Latvia scored on two shots from the point. Tambijevs had a chance to tie the game when he blew a slap shot wide on a partial breakaway The excitement ended with a final score of 4-6 (1:1, 1:4, 2:1) in Canada's favor.