Latvia back on track
by John Sanful|08 MAY 2018
Latvian forward Oskars Cibulskis carries the puck in front of Korea goalie Matt Dalton.
photo: Matt Zambonin / HHOF-IIHF Images
Latvia defeated Korea 5-0 to record its second win at the 2018 IIHF World Championships. Two first period goals carved out a lead that Latvia would not relinquish. They successfully rebounded from an 8-1 loss to Finland with a solid effort in the afternoon tilt at Jyske Bank Boxen in Herning.

Timely scoring and solid defence were Latvia's keys to success.
"We knew we had to throw that last game out even though it still sticks in our mind." Rodrigo Abols said. "We felt we needed to skate and work today because we know Korea is a good team. They are not here by an accident.

In the first period, Latvia outshot Korea 11-5 but were somewhat tentative to start before getting quality chances as the game progressed. 

"They skate well and have some skills so we had to be careful because they were waiting for our mistakes on the blueline and try to counter attack with 3-on-2 plays," Abols said.

Nikita Jevpalovs effectively drove to net within first two minutes but could not get shot off. In another effort, Martins Karsums skated around the net and attempted a wraparound that was saved and cleared. 
The game’s first penalty was called on Korea when Brian Young was whistled for tripping at 8:27. Still, Korea was able to keep Latvia on the outside and unable to score. 
The scoreless tie was erased at 11:46 as Gints Meija roared down the right wing and cut inside between two defensemen sending a shot that went over Matt Dalton’s glove side for the score.
Brock Radunske and Jin Hui Ahn had Korea’s best scoring chances. Radunske skated in and sent a hard shot on net that was turned away. Ahn had a clear look in the slot but Elvis Merzlikins, who was back in the net today, held his ground. 
"You want to get as many Grade A chances as you can." Radunske said. "First couple of games a lot of chances were just off the wing. Those are not going to go in at this level so we have to mix it up. I got a nice pass that opened up a little ice for me and I tried to put it up top."

Latvia extended their lead when Ronalds Kenins scored. Rudolfs Balcers curled around the net then to the other side sliding a pass across to Kenins for the score at 18:45.
Korea vs. Latvia
KOR LAT 08 MAY 2018
Korea’s best chance of the game would come in the second period when captain Woosang Park, fresh off the bench, went in on a breakaway but his forehand shot could not get through. 
Latvian captain Roberts Bukarts would give his team a three-goal advantage. Latvia pressured Korea in the offensive zone. The Koreans could not get the puck out. Karsums grabbed the loose puck and passed it to Bukarts down low for the goal.
"It was huge for us to get off to a good start today and keep it going," Abols said. "We wanted to get the first goal and get the momentum going but even if we didn't score we wanted to get off to a good start and maintain the pressure."

Michael Swift was called for tripping, giving Latvia a power play. Balcers scored his second goal of the tournament. Miks Indrasis and Rodrigo Abols picked up assists. Latvia added a fifth goal to close out scoring.

Balcers would have two points in the game. 
Overall a good effort by Latvia in a game they had to win. They now have five points in Group B and puts them back in the mix. 

"Our goal is to make the quarterfinals." Abols said of their tournament plan. We know that if we want to be there we have to beat these teams in front of us and take it game by game. We can enjoy this victory for a bit them have to forget it and prepare for the next game."
Korea vs. Latvia