Canada off and running
by Andrew Podnieks|10 AUG 2022
Canada's Connor Bedard crashes the net of Latvian goalkeeper Patriks Berzins.
photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images
Canada scored three goals in the second to break open a 1-1 game and skate to a 5-2 victory in their first game of the 2022 World Juniors. The loss was the second in as many days for Latvia in Group A. 

Latvia is here in Edmonton as the top team from Division I that was promoted after the suspension from participation of Russia and has played Canada only twice previously at the U20 level, a 16-0 loss in 2009 and a 10-2 decision in 2016.

"We've been waiting for this for a long time," said Canadian forward Joshua Roy. "Everybody put out the effort today. We're happy about the win."

"We played pretty great," offered Rainders Darzins, one of the goalscorers for Latvia. "I think they just won the game because we were better than us in the second period. So it was tough, but I think they weren't a lot better than us."

The 17-year-old Connor Bedard had a goal and assist for Canada and led all players with eight shots on goal.
Latvia vs Canada - 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship
Canada scored three goals in the second to break open a 1-1 game and skate to a 5-2 victory in their first game of the 2022 World Juniors.
LAT CAN 10 AUG 2022
Despite dominating the opening period to the tune of an 18-4 shots advantage, the home side emerged from the first 20 minutes with nothing more than a tie to show for it. There were two goals, and both were the result of rocket shots.

Canada opened the scoring when Bedard, the best player on the ice by far, stepped in over the blue line and wired a bullet under the glove of Patriks Berzins in the Latvian goal at 7:31.

"It always feels good to score, and especially that first one on the tournament," Bedard said. "I think it's always exciting no matter who gets it, but it definitely felt good."

Canada pressed and pressed some more, but Berzins was a rock in goal for Latvija. But the Latvians were evidently playing a form of rope-a-dope with Canada, for Rainders Darzins tied the game at 18:06. He took on defender Lukas Cormier and used him as a screen, ripping a bullet over the shoulder of an unsuspecting Sebastian Cossa.

Both Berzins and Cossa were making their IIHF debuts. Cossa was backup last December but never got into a game.

"We won the puck on our blue line," Darzins explained. "My linemate, Vitolins, made a line in the middle for me, so I just went there and shot and scored the goal there."

Latvia played with Canada stride for stride for the first half of the second period, doing a much better job of containing their opponents and looking like they were ready to pull off a massive upset. But they ran into penalty trouble, giving Canada three chances and killing their own momentum.

On the first advantage, though, Latvia had the best chance when Raimonds Vitolins had a breakaway, only to be stymied by Cossa. But soon after, defender Lukas Cormier beat Berzins with a shot from the top of the circle at 11:23. Bedard hit the post on a delayed penalty a few minutes later, and five minutes after taking a 2-1 lead they upped it to 3-1 on another advantage. 

This time it was a quick shot from the middle of the ice off the stick of Olen Zellweger that went through several bodies. Just 59 seconds later Canada made it 4-1 when Ridly Greig scored a gem. He fought off Bogdans Hodass to create a break, and then one-handed the puck between Berzins’s pads from close range.

"It was a pretty lucky bounce," Greig suggested. "A tracker was right on me, so I just tried to get it on net."

Latvia got back into the game early in the third on a power play of their own. Hodass snapped a one-timer under the glove of Cossa to cut the lead to 4-2 and give the visitors some life. That life was given further oxygen when Canada took two quick penalties, giving the Latvians a two-skater advantage for nine seconds and nearly four minutes short-handed. 

Canada's penalty killers stepped up, though, and put the game out of reach at 14:44 when William Dufour tok a pass from Greig and flicked a shot over Berzins' glove to make it 5-2.
Latvia vs Canada - 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship