Latvia trounces United States 2-0

  • 2001-05-03
  • J. Michael Lyons
RIGA - Another Ice Hockey World Championships and another giant slain.

Latvia turned hockey heads on April 30 with a convincing 2-0 win over the United States in Cologne, keeping their hopes for a birth in the second round alive.

Behind some dazzling goaltending by Arturs Irbe, Latvia salved the wounds of a 5-2 loss to Sweden on April 29 with the win over the United States.

Aleksandrs Semjonovs, who plays club hockey in Sweden's Elite League, beat U.S. goalie Robert Esche with a slapshot in the waning moments of the second period for Latvia's first score.

The United States peppered Irbe with shots throughout the first two periods. He posted 42 saves in what some observers called one of his best world championship games ever.

Latvia had 21 shots on goal.

Latvia's second goal came 4 minutes, 55 seconds into the third period when Aleksandrs Kercs slipped the puck between Esche's legs to cap a two-on-one breakaway.

A majority of the crowd of 7,503 were Latvian fans, turning the Cologne arena into Sporta Pils for a night.

"I didn't expect the whole country of Latvia to be here," U.S. head coach Lou Vairo told reporters after the game. "I was looking for the king. I didn't see him."

The win puts Latvia into a strong position to advance to the second round.

Latvia played a winless Ukraine on May 2. The result was not available as of press time.

The United States beat Ukraine 6-3 on April 28 and played Sweden on May 2.