HALIFAX – Norway reached the quarterfinals, thanks to Germany's 5-3 win over Latvia. Yannic Seidenberg's third period goal fueled the win as German scores three times inside of four minutes of the final period. This the third and final game of the evening at the Halifax Metro Centre and the that determines who will face Canada on Wednesday.
Entering the Qualifying Round things did not look good for Latvia, trailing Norway who came into Group F play with four points. On the strength of their win over Norway in the Qualifying Round, Latvia had their fate in their hands. For Germany, there was little left to play for except pride. For Norway it's the first time among the top-8 nations since 1990!
"We had a couple of late goals in our last game and I think that gave us some confidence," said German forward Michael Wolf. "We really did not want to lose this game. They worked hard but perhaps were nervous because the game meant more to them."
Knowing that they had to win or gain a point in overtime, Latvia immediately began working on getting solid scoring chances. For the entire period, Germany had a hard time dealing with the Latvian attack and providing an effective counterattack of its own.
Latvia took a 1-0 lead when Martins Karsums attempted a wrap around that was saved by Dmitrij Patzold but a big rebound came out to Herberts Vasiljevs who shoveled it into the net. Vasiljevs shot went in glove side as Patzold stood no chance at stopping it.
Germany was given its chance to pull level when Michael Hackert was pulled down by Mikelis Redlihs who was called for hooking. This gave Germany an opportunity to get its power play going. Entering tonight's game Germany's power play was third in the tournament at a 32% efficiency.
Germany answered back on this man advantage with John Tripp causing plenty of havoc in front of Masalskis. Tripp screened the goaltender as Christopher Schmidt sent a shot on goal that Masalskis did not see. The goal was Schmidt's second of the tournament with 1:15 remaining in the period.
Quick penalty to start second on Janis Sprukts for hooking gave the Germans a chance to take the lead but could not convert.
Redlihs would atone for his taking the penalty that led to Germany's score when at 5:48 of the second period he added his own marker.
Redlihs drove to the net using an going wide then shifting inside and on goal. His initial shot was stopped but squirted through Patzold's pads. Redlihs tapped the puck in as he skated past the crease behind the goaltender for a 2-1 lead for his team.
Marco Sturm had a quality chance but was stopped. Still, the Germans kept pressing. Michael Wolf scored with a shot that hit Masalskis left glove and redirected into the net, tying the game at two.
Karsums helped Latvia regain the lead when Vasiljevs attempted a one-on-one deke on Sprukts. The loose puck was picked up by Aleksandrs Nizivijs who flubbed on his shot. Philip Gogulla tried to clear the puck but it was intercepted by Karsums who scored. There it stood 3-2 at the end of two and the Latvians twenty minutes away from victory if they could hold on.
The Germans enjoyed their best period when in the third the momentum shifted to their side. In addition, Latvia was losing its composure, which for a team of veterans, was the last thing anyone expected.
Florian Busch tried to tuck the puck one handed under Masalskis as he drove to the net. As he bore in on net, Busch was knocked into the goalie but Christoph Schubert was there for the score.
"I think both teams did not play very well in the first two periods," said Latvian netminder Edgars Masalskis. "They woke up in the third period and we didn't. That third goal broke us."
The Germans would continue to make things interesting as they had several chances. Yannic Seidenberg gave the Germans the lead despite having Rodrigo Lavins draped over him in front. For the first time in the game, German held the lead.
Christoph Ullman added another for good measure to make it 5-3.
At this point, the game turned ugly. The Latvians started playing chippy hockey and taking careless penalties. Feeling confident know because of their effort, the Germans would not back down. Some roughing penalties and heated scrums later, Latvia saw their playoff opportunity erased and fans disappointed.
Meanwhile, Norway meets Canada on Wednesday, which is amazing as it is newsworthy.