Young & old lead U.S. to win
by Andrew Podnieks|27 MAY 2021
Team USA’s Brian Boyle #11 celebrates with Justin Abdelkader #89, Kevin Labanc #62, Matt Roy #3 and Ryan Donato #16 after scoring a first-period goal against Latvia.
 
photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images
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The oldest player on the U.S. team, 36-year-old Brian Boyle, and the youngest, 18-year-old Matty Beniers, scored key goals to lead the Americans to a crucial 4-2 win over Latvia this afternoon in Riga.

The win vaults the U.S. into a tie for first place in Group B with nine points while the Latvians are now in a tie for third with seven points. The Americans have now won three in a row, a feat previously accomplished only by Germany and Slovakia this year.

"The message that we've had, we've executed," Boyle said. "We've tried to get better each game. With 13 forwards and 7 defencemen, you have different guys playing with different people, but we're a hard-working team and play above the puck. We've tried to earn our offence, and it's paid off for us."

"They just capitalized on their chances, I think," offered Latvian forward Renars Krastenbergs. "They stuck us in our zone for quite some time at the end of that second period; they created some chances in front of our net and scored."

"We just have to regroup," said Kristians Rubins. "It’s a quick process. We play so many games in 10 or 12 days. We play another game tomorrow. We know how important these games are for us. We just get a meal in, get a good sleep, and get back to it. We can’t really look to the past; we just need to be ready for tomorrow."
United States vs Latvia - 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship
The oldest player on the U.S. team, 36-year-old Brian Boyle, and the youngest, 18-year-old Matty Beniers, scored key goals to lead the Americans to a crucial 4-2 win over Latvia this afternoon in Riga.
USA LAT 27 MAY 2021
The Americans got just the start they wanted, opening the scoring just 1:06 into the game. The play started when goalie Matiss Kivlenieks lost his stick on a play near the side of his goal. As the U.S. controlled the puck, it came back to Matt Tennyson at the point, and his low shot went all the way and beat Kivlenieks between the pads.

Soon after, though, the Americans took two quick penalties, and Latvia capitalized on the five-on-three. Miks Indrasis got the puck in the high slot and waited patiently before ripping a shot over the glove of the right-catching Cal Petersen at 5:00.

Although play was even, it felt as though the U.S. was in control but Latvia always lurking. As it turned out, Boyle gave the U.S a lead at 14:46. He came off the bench and took a pass from Kevin Labanc, and his long shot floated over the glove of Kivlenieks. It was Boyle’s first goal of the tournament in his first tournament representing his country, and first since he last played a game in August 2020.

Two minutes later, though, the determined Latvians tied the game again. This time a giveaway in the corner allowed Oskars Batna to drive to the net. Petersen stopped that shot, but the rebound came right to Renard Krastenbergs on the back side, and he fired the puck in.

The second started to the Latvians’ liking—close checking, plenty of play between the blue lines. But a series of penalties opened the game. Although neither team scored with the extra man, teams started to create more offence and penetrate with greater effectiveness. 

Trevor Moore scored his fourth of the tournament at 11:45 after Ralfs Freiburgs fumbled the puck behind his own goal. Conor Garland got the puck and hit Moore with a perfect pass in front, and he made no mistake.

Two minutes later, Beniers made it 4-2. He hasn’t been getting a lot of ice time from coach Jack Capunao, but the skilled forward got the puck behind the net and tried to stuff the puck in. The puck bounced off Kristians Rubins in front and over the shoulder of Kivlenieks.

"It started with a good shift," Beniers explained. "Boiler [Boyle] and Sash [Chmelevski] were out there with me, and we were grinding them down for a good 15-20 seconds. After that, their defence started getting a little tired, and the coach had been talking about taking the puck to the net a lot over the past week, so I kind of turned off my guy and tried to get there and it went in. It was a good shift by all of us, and it happened to go in."

Both teams play Norway next. Latvia plays them on Friday and the U.S. a day later as the round robin reaches its critical stages.

"It’s cool," Boyle said. "We’ve won some games here; we get to see our flag go up and sing our anthem. It’s a proud team in there. We obviously all have a lot to play for, but living in the country we do, with the opportunities we’ve had, we’re so fortunate. It’s certainly a blessing to be able to play."
United States vs Latvia - 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship