Latvian goaltender Arturs Silovs started in back-to-back games and had to be sharp as Russia looked to capitalize early. They almost scored at the end of an early power play, but Harijs Brants cleared the puck from the paint before a Russian stick could get to the puck.
The teams traded chances as Russia hit a post, and then Latvia had a string of scoring opportunities at the other end of the ice. It was clear that Russia was controlling possession, but neither team is able to set up a true cycle for most of the period.
“We are playing to control the game and play our best game from the first shifts,” commented Russian forward Ilya Nikolayev. “It’s best for us to score first and to control the puck more [than the other team].”
It would be Maxim Gorshev who would break the deadlock for Russia as he picked off the top corner at a close angle 13 minutes in.
Silovs was making great saves, but had some problems with rebound control. Luckily, Latvia kept Russia’s shots to the outside for long stretches of time.
“I feel pretty comfortable,” the Latvian goaltender said, “I normally take a lot of shots every game so I was prepared for this championship tournament.”
His team was able to tie the game on a goal from Raivis Ansons off a shot that came out of a turn as the puck flew past the Russian defender and over the glove of Yaroslav Askarov.
After what the Latvians thought was a missed call, Nikolayev passed the puck through the crease to Semyon Chistyakov for a tap in, re-taking the Russian lead.
A funny play in the Latvian crease lead to a fumble and Dmitri Sheshin was able to tap it home to make it 3-1 before the end of the second period.
The bulk of the third period was spent with the teams fighting to get shots through. With 3:04 left in regulation, Latvia tried a nice drop pass play which caused some shoving by the Russian net. Latvian head coach Olegs Sorokins called timeout and pulled Silovs for the extra attacker.
His team put together one great scoring chance, but for the rest of the game found themselves chasing the Russians around in their own zone trying to avoid an empty net goal. Unfortunately, they were unsuccessful and Rodion Amirov put Russia up 4-1, shortly followed by Yaroslav Likhachyov adding one more with both teams back at even strength.
With Russia putting 44 shots on net, the frustration was noticeable, even for Silovs.“I saw the emotions of their players, they were like, ‘Come on! That’s not a goal?!’ but they ended up scoring five, so for them it ended okay.”
Nikolayev noted, "You [Latvia] have a very good goalie, but if the forwards don’t score much, even if your goalie stops and faces a lot of shots they may look unbreakable, but it was not like that.” He continued, “It’s our job to score more. Of course we were a little bit frustrated that we didn’t, but at the end of the day there’s always room to try and improve and try our best to play our game.”
Looking forward at the opponents coming up for Latvia, Silovs (who was named Player of the Game for Latvia) marks Slovakia as a team they could beat and, “We look forward to a good battle with the USA.”