Latvia's victory in its final game against Austria ensured the team would remain in the elite division. (photo: LHF)
BRATISLAVA -- Latvia's national hockey team has narrowly avoided being bumped from the elite division following one of the team's worst performances in years.
Four consecutive losses had put the team, which has been a member of the elite division for 15 years, within a single game of demotion to Division I. Subsequent wins in the final two games over Belarus and Austria, however, secured the team with a spot in next year's world championships.
In the first pool, Latvia lost all three games to reigning champions Czech Republic, Finland and Denmark. Though Latvia was ahead for most of the first game and managed to bring the second two to a penalty shoot-out, it proved unable to come out on top in any of them.
The tournament will probably be the last for Latvia head coach Olegs Znaroks, who has announced that he will "most likely" step down from the post later this year.
Latvia took 7th place in the 2009 tournament and 11th in 2010. Latvia will finish this year's tournament in 13th place.