2021 mwc can lat

IIHF Worlds Preview: Canada vs. Latvia

Friday, May 21 | 1 p.m. ET | Riga, Latvia | Preliminary Round

Jason La Rose
May 21, 2021

GAME NOTES: Canada vs. Latvia (May 21)

TV: TSN | TSN Direct

Ready to roll in Riga, Canada’s National Men’s Team drops the puck Friday at the 2021 IIHF World Championship, facing off against the host Latvians.

It marks the first international game for a Canadian team on European ice since the gold medal game at the IIHF World Junior Championship on Jan. 5, 2020, two months before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of the hockey world.


This is the tournament opener for both teams, and neither played a pre-tournament game.

Canada’s last game at the worlds came in the gold medal game at the 2019 tournament in Bratislava, Slovakia. Shea Theodore opened the scoring midway through the first period and Canada doubled up Finland on the shot clock, 44-22, but the Finns rode the stand-out goaltending of Kevin Lankinen and a pair of third-period goals to a 3-1 win and a world title.

Latvia failed to make it out of the preliminary round in Slovakia, finishing 3-4.


The Canadians have dominated the Latvians through the years (as you’ll read below), but the 2018 preliminary-round game went against that trend.

Canada got the scoring started early, with Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Mathew Barzal setting up Anthony Beauvillier less than three minutes in. But Kristers Gudlevskis took over from there with 31 saves, Kristians Rubins tied it 1:50 into the third period and Latvia surprisingly pushed the game to overtime.

It only took 46 seconds of the extra period for Connor McDavid to end it; the Canadian captain batted his own rebound past a sprawling Gudlevskis to give Canada a 2-1 win and help ensure it finished ahead of the Latvians in Group B.


While the Canadian roster typically includes a few recognizable names (the 2019 roster included Vegas Golden Knights captain Mark Stone and Ottawa Senators blueliner Thomas Chabot, among others), the 2021 edition of Team Canada is filled with new faces.

Of the 25 players on the roster, only three – Adam Henrique, Darcy Kuemper and Troy Stecher – have previously played at the worlds. (A fourth, Michael DiPietro, was part of the 2018 team but never dressed for a game.) Nine – Beaudin, Brown, Bunting, Ferraro, Hagel, Mangiapane, Miller and Walker – have never worn the Maple Leaf at any level, and two more – Danforth and Pirri – got their lone international experience with Canada East at the World Junior A Challenge.

What does this all mean? Absolutely nothing. All 16 countries have been affected by the global pandemic and the late start to the NHL playoffs, and all 25 Canadians have earned their way to Riga with solid performances with their club teams this season. This should be a young, hungry group that will be fun to watch.


The Canadians have dominated the head-to-head history, winning 11 of 12 meetings (with one tie) and outscoring Latvia by a lopsided 71-14 margin. That includes the only prior meeting in Riga – Canada got goals from 10 different players and a tournament-record nine (!!) power-play goals in an 11-0 qualifying-round win in 2006. Kyle Calder scored a pair of goals and Justin Williams chipped in with a goal and three helpers.

All-time record: Canada leads 11-0-1 (1-0 in OT)
Canada goals: 71
Latvia goals: 14

For more information:

Dominick Saillant
Director, Communications
Hockey Canada
[email protected]


Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada
[email protected]


Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada
Office: 403-777-4567
Mobile: 905-906-5327
[email protected]


2021 WPHC: CAN 2 – USA 1 (Preliminary)
Power-play goals from James Dunn and Tyler McGregor were enough to lead Canada past the U.S. 2-1 in its worlds opener.
2021 MWC: CAN 3 – FIN 2 OT (Gold Medal)
Paul was the overtime hero to give Canada the gold medal in Riga.
2021 MWC: CAN 4 – USA 2 (Semifinal)
Mangiapane scored twice to send Canada into the gold medal game.
2021 MWC: CAN 2 – ROC 1 OT (Quarterfinal)
Stecher set up Mangiapane for the OT winner to earn a semifinal spot.