Germany overpowers Latvia
by Andrew PODNIEKS|15 MAY 2024
photo: Matt Zambonin/IIHF
Germany overwhelmed Latvia in the second period, scoring five times en route to a one-sided 8-1 victory this afternoon. The win closes the gap in the Group B standings as Latvia remains in second place with seven points while Germany is now alone in third with six.

Some 15 players recorded a point for the victors, led by JJ Peterka's two goals. 

"We played really well," said Maksymilian Szuber. "It was a great team effort. We were very connected today. We had fresh legs today, and the coaches did a great job preparing us. It wasn't as easy as the score might show. They played a hard game, and the shots were pretty close [31-21]. Maybe we had a couple of bounces, but we're happy with the win."

"The result wasn't good for us, and unfortunately it was a big score," lamented Latvia's Oskars Cibulskis. "We played yesterday, and they were resting. They played only the day before, so it kind of felt they were a little fresher. It's not an excuse, but it explains a little bit the high score in a game that's so important for us. It is what it is, but we have games in front of us and we're going to battle hard."

The Germans came out with purpose, taking advantage of their chances and keeping Latvia to the outside for the most part. They opened the scoring at 5:27 after a too casual save from Kristers Gudlevskis, starting his second game of the tournament. He couldn’t control the rebound off a shot, and the puck came right to Dominik Kahun, who made no mistake.

Gudslevskis made up for it with a big save off Nico Sturm on a breakaway to keep it a one-goal game, but the goalie wasn’t so fortunate late in the period on another clear chance, this by Kai Wissmann. Wissmann brought the puck up ice at average speed, but no one took him and he kept going, moving in alone and roofing a shot over Gudlevskis's glove for a 2-0 Germany lead.

A sign of things to come came early in the second. Leonhard Pfoderl scored after just 48 seconds on a three-on-two, his long shot beating Gudlevskis low between the pads. Two minutes later, Parker Tuomie made it 4-0 off a high shot, and that spelled the end for Gudlevskis, who was replaced by Elvis Merzlikins.

That change meant little to Germany. Peterka made it 5-0 on a power play at 5:37, firing a shot under Elvis’s glove, and five minutes later Marc Michaelis added a sixth off a scramble in front. Peterka’s second of the period illustrated how things were going for Latvia. He fired a pass through the slot that went off the slick of Latvian forward Raivis Ansons, beating Merzlikins cleanly.

Latvia did manage to beat Philipp Grubauer before the period ended when Markuss Komuls scored on an accurate wrist shot at 19:03. It was his first goal in his Team Latvia career, and teammates collected the puck for him as a souvenir.

But just in case Latvia thought that that goal might lead to an Austria-versus-Canada miracle comeback, Nico Sturm made it 8-1 at 4:28 of the third, knocking a loose puck over the line after Merzlikins mishandled the puck to the side of his goal.

"We're heading in the right direction," Szuber added. "It's not always about the score or standings; it's about how we play. I hope we can keep it going like we did today."
Germany vs Latvia - 2024 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship