Switzerland, Latvia and Kazakhstan won their respective Final Olympic Qualification groups on Sunday and clinched berths to the XX Olympic Winter Games in Turin 2006.
The highlight of the last day was Latvia’s stunning 5-4-victory over Belarus, a game which already has earned the name “Miracle in Riga”. Belarus were leading 4-2 with five minutes left, when Latvia exploded with three goals in the last five minutes. The Latvians needed only 2.20 to score the three goals.
Switzerland will be in Turin in the Olympic Preliminary Group A with reigning Olympic champion Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany and host Italy, while Latvia and Kazakhstan are slotted in to Group B with Sweden, Slovakia, USA and Russia.
The men’s Olympic ice hockey tournament will open on at 11.30 (AM) local Turin time with Sweden taking on Kazakhstan in the first game. On the same day, reigning Olympic champion Canada will start defending their title against host Italy at 13.00, while the 2002 Salt Lake City silver-medal team USA will face Latvia at 21.00.
The men’s Gold Medal game will be played on February 26, while the women’s Gold Medal finale is on February 20.