GAME NOTES: Canada vs. Latvia (April 28)
TV: TSN | TSN Direct
Canada’s National Men’s Under-18 Team continues its quest for a first gold medal at the IIHF U18 World
Championship since 2013 on Wednesday night when it faces Latvia in the
second of back-to-back Group A contests to open its tournament.
Canada flexed its offensive muscle in its tournament opener, scoring four
times in each period in a
convincing 12-1 win over Sweden. Shane Wright led the charge with a hat trick – netting goals at even
strength, on the power play and shorthanded – and Brandt Clarke added two
goals and two assists. The Canadians chased Swedish starter Carl Lindbom
before the 14-minute mark en route to their second-most goals ever at the
U18 worlds (Canada set the all-time tournament mark with a 15-1 win over
Denmark in 2005).
Latvia was hit with two goals in 23 seconds midway through the first period
of its tournament opener on Monday against Switzerland that ended in a 4-2
defeat. Goals from Dans Locmelis and Anri Ravinskis late in the middle
frame had Latvia coming out for the third period with a chance after facing
a four-goal deficit, but a comeback was not meant to be.
If there was a lesson for Canada to take in its last meeting with Latvia at
the U18 worlds, it’s this – don’t ever take a team lightly.
Canada edged Latvia 3-1 in the quarterfinals in their most recent meeting at the 2019 tournament in Umeå, Sweden,
advancing to the semifinals in spite of relentless effort from their
opposition in the final frame after the Canadians went into the
intermission after 40 minutes up 2-0 from a five-hole tally by Braden
Schneider in the first period and a fortunate face-off bounce for Peyton
Krebs in the second.
Harijs Brants pulled the Latvians within one midway through the final frame
to set up a nervous last 10 minutes, but Taylor Gauthier made 38 stops and
Krebs found the empty net late to secure Canada’s place in the final four.
During that 2019 quarterfinal, Canada received an up-close-and-personal
view of Latvia’s growth as a hockey nation. The Baltic country hosted the
2018 IIHF U18 World Championship, Division IA following relegation from the
top division the previous year, and didn’t stay down long.
An impressive 5-0 showing with only four goals conceded against sturdy
opposition like Germany, Denmark and Norway had the Latvians back at the
top level the following year in Sweden, where their quarterfinal defeat to
Canada marked their best-ever finish at the tournament.
Latvia head coach Olegs Sorokins, despite a disruptive year for his program
and international hockey, is hopeful his team can continue building on
their momentum that’s been established. The squad will have an advantage in
rest over Canada after having an off-day from competition on Tuesday
following Monday’s loss to Switzerland.
“This year, we have made much higher goals for our team, so we’ll see how
it goes,” Sorokins says. “It’s not over yet.”
A LOOK BACK
The Canadians are a perfect 4-0 against Latvia, with their 3-1 quarterfinal
win in 2019 and a 4-1 victory during the 2017 preliminary round in Poprad,
Slovakia telling much different stories than their previous two historical
The two nations
combined for 17 markers in an 11-6 goalfest during the first game of the 2015 IIHF U18 World Championship in
Switzerland. You have to go as far back as 2007 to find their meeting
before that, when Kyle Turris and Logan Couture each had two goals for
Canada in a 9-1 result in Rauma, Finland.
All-time record: Canada leads 4-0
Canada goals: 27
Latvia goals: 9