Latvia wins wild one

U18: Beat Germans in tight game, Canada defeats Czechs

Zimni Stadion Znojmo  Czech Republic

Latvia is having a good tournament, managing to beat Switzerland and Germany in close games to make the Group B playoff picture even murkier. Photo: Phil MacCallum / HHOF - IIHF Images

Germany – Latvia 4-5 (1-1, 2-2, 1-2) ZNOJMO – With a potential trip to the quarter-finals on the line. Latvia and Germany played a tight match that went down to the wire. Falling behind by a goal twice early on, the Latvians came back to take the game 5-4. Latvian forward Robert Lipsberg’s scored three goals, including the game winner to complete the hat trick. The game was tied at three apiece after the second intermission when Patriks Shuratovs sent Gerogs Golovkovs on a breakaway goal for the 4-3 lead. Then Marcel Kurth knotted the game up once more with a goal on the rebound halfway through the period. But Lipsbergs answered back a minute later with a slapshot from the blue line to put his team up for good.  

Following Lipsberg's goal, the Latvians had to endure nearly constant pressure from a desperate German team. Latvia had to kill off a penalty with under three minutes remaining, and goaltender Ivars Punnenovs answered with a splendid performance in the dying minutes, coming in relief for Elvis Merzlikins who was subbed out for the third period. After a Latvian forward missed on an empty net chance, Punnenovs came across the net to deny German forward Sven Ziegler the tying goal with a glove save.  

Through the first two periods, neither team was able to get the upperhand for long on the scoreboard. Germany’s opening goal was followed by a score from Latvia’s Teodors Blugers less than four minutes later. Then in the second period, Sven Ziegler found himself on the receiving end of a long pass form defenceman Dominik Tiffels, took the puck down to the right circle and fired a blast that went through Merzlikins and into the net. But Latvia answered back once more with a goal from Roberts Lipsbergs, who kept the puck on a two-on-one and shot a the net. Marving Cupper made the initial save but Lipsbergs was able to get a handle on the rebound and shoot it home to tie the game. Then Lipsbergs gave Latvia its first lead of the game with another goal with less than two minutes to go in the period. But a goal from Germany with 26 seconds left to go knotted the game up at 3-3 going into the final period. Latvia now has a 2W-2L through four games in the preliminary round and is in good position to advance to the quarter-finals. Germany will play Switzerland in their final preliminary round game, but could still qualify thanks to their upset win over Russia. Canada – Czech Republic 6-2 (4-1, 0-1, 2-0) BRNO – Team Canada scored four goals in the first period against the Czech Republic to earn a 6-2 victory in its third game of the preliminary round. Brendan Gaunce scored two goals and Sam Reinhart recorded three points as Canada (2W-1L) set up a final preliminary round game against the U.S. to determine the top seed in Group A. Following a quiet opening ten minutes, Canada struck first on a three-on-two with a goal by Gaunce from Gemel Smith and Reinhart. The Czechs scored a tying goal three minutes later when defenceman Jakub Houfek got the puck off of a faceoff in the Canadian zone and fired a high shot that went past a screened Matt Murray. But Canada struck right back half a minute later when Gaunce recorded his second of the game. Gaunce came in with Reinhart on a two-on-one, and both players were initially stopped by Czech goaltender Patrik Polivka. But Polivka could not get a handle on the rebound and Gaunce finished the play and put his team up 2-1. The Czechs then put themselves further in a hole with two simultaneous hooking calls after Canadian forward Scott Laughton scored Canada’s third goal. On the ensuing 5-on-3 Reinhart got his third point of the game with a deflection into the Czech net. The Czech Republic cut the lead down to two in the second period, when Patrik Machac lofted a backhand pass to forward Dominik Volek. The puck was in the air when Volek picked it out with his stick, shooting it out of the air and past Murray. But they could not produce another, and Matt Dumba and Kerby Rychel added scores in the third as the Czechs fell to 1W-2L. Click here for photos, scores, and stats. ADAM STEISS
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