Latvia wins as fight for 4th intensifies
by Andrew Podnieks|12 MAY 2018
Latvian forward Ronalds Kenins (#91) celebrates with Ralfs Freibergs (#29) after scoring against Germany.
photo: Matt Zambonin / HHOF-IIHF Images
Latvia won a tight and close-checking game this afternoon in Herning, defeating Germany by a 3-1 score and making a race for the fourth and final playoff spot in Group B even tighter.
It was a huge win for us. It's three points that keeps us playing for a spot in the quarter-finals.
Miks Indrasis
Latvian forward
Goalie Elvis Merzlikins was Latvia's best player, stopping 33 or 34 shots and playig with rock-solid confidence. Andris Dzerins had a goal and assist for the winners. 

Latvia now has nine points, the same number as Finland (although the Finns have a game in hand) in third place, dropping Denmark down to fifth with eight. Germany remains in sixth with five points in as many games, and their quarter-finals hopes are slipping fast. The Olympic silver medallists have now won just one of five games in Denmark.

"This was a very disappointing loss," admitted Dennis Seidenberg. "I thought we played our best game of the tournament. We cut through the neutral zone with a lot of speed and created turnovers on our forecheck. But they scored first and at the right time."

Although Edmonton Oilers star Leon Draisaitl played his best game, he also incurred a 2+10 penalty near the end of the first, putting Germany down its best player for one-fifth of th egame.

Given that the U.S., Canada, and Finland will surely claim the first three spots, the fight for fourth between Denmark, Latvia, and Germany is now reaching its climax.

Germany now plays Finland tomorrow, and Latvia takes on Canada on Monday, results that will further clarify - or complicate - matters.
Latvia vs. Germany
LAT GER 12 MAY 2018
Latvia's win today was defined by the incredibly effective clogging of the middle of the ice, particularly in front of goalie Elvis Merzlikins. Countless shots hit bodies, were deflected, or blocked, leaving clear-cut scoring chances few and far between.
That didn’t deter the Latvian fans from banging drums, chanting, and clapping all game long with their usual fervor, but in truth they didn’t have much to cheer about for for the longest time.
Most of the excitement for the first 40 minutes came from one important shift late in the second period. The Germans had an incredible chance to score off a terrible turnover by Latvia in centre ice.
Marc Michaelis got the puck along the far boards at the Latvian blue line, and he bore down on goal with Marcel Noebels streaking to the net. Unfortunately for German fans, Noebels shoots right, so Michaelis had to make the pass behind him. That little difference gave Latvian defenceman Ralfs Freibergs time to get his stick in the way and break up the rush.
Play came up ice and all of a sudden Germany had a three-on-two, and the players executed a beautiful sequence. Rudolfs Balcers played the pass from the right side to Rodrigo Abols, going to the net.
Now, nine times out of ten, a player in Abols’s position would have made a quick shot. That’s what German goalie Niklas Treutle thought. That’s what the two German defencemen anticipated.
But, no! Abols calmly slid the puck back to the slot where Ronalds Kenins had a wide open net, scoring at 16:54 and giving Latvia a huge momentum boost.

They carried that flow to the opening shift of the third. Miks Indrasis dropped a pass for Guntis Galvins off the rush, but the puck was bouncing and Galvins took a shot with the flat side of the puck along his stick blade. The puck wobbled crazily under the glove of Treutle just 15 seconds in, giving Latvia a now commanding 2-0 lead.

Latvia made it 3-0 at 7:54 when Oliver Mebus blocked a Latvian point shot in front of his goal. Andris Dzerins pulled the puck out of Mebus's body and fired a quick shot that surprised Treutle. 

But just when it seemed the game was over, Leon Draisaitl fed Dominik Kahun a nice pass on an odd-man situation in close, and Kahun connected to get the Germans on the board at 8:40.
Latvia vs. Germany