GAME STATS: CANADA 4, LATVIA 2
PLANO, Texas – After comfortably putting 12 goals past Sweden the night
prior, Canada’s National Men’s Under-18 Team wasn’t treated to the same
experience against Latvia on Wednesday.
The team in burgundy and white was resilient all night, but 52 shots and a
pair of goals from Mason McTavish (Carp, Ont./Peterborough, OHL) were
enough to help see Canada through to a 4-2 victory and improve to 2-0 in
Group A action at the 2021 IIHF U18 World Championship.
Don’t let the shot-clock fool you. Despite nearly doubling up their
opponent on shot attempts, Latvia always looked within striking distance.
Karlis Mezsargs did all he could in the Latvian net, making 48 stops, but
Benjamin Gaudreau (Corbeil, Ont./Sarnia, OHL) was equal to the task in
Canada’s crease by making a number of timely stops as part of a 25-save
effort to keep Latvia on the losing end.
A backhand snipe from Sandis Vilmanis made for a nervy finish in the third,
but a late too-many-players call against the Latvians awarded McTavish the
opportunity to put the game on ice with 43 seconds remaining.
Late scratches to captain Shane Wright (Burlington, Ont./Kingston, OHL) and
Corson Ceulemans (Beaumont, Alta./Brooks, AJHL) before the match meant
Canada would need contributions without two key pieces.
A penalty-laden first period saw both sides struggle on the power play,
with an early 5-on-3 opportunity for Canada stamped out by a resilient
Latvian penalty kill.
Canada went 2-for-9 on the power play, while Latvia was able to capitalize
once on their eight opportunities with the man advantage.
Logan Stankoven (Kamloops, B.C./Kamloops, WHL) broke the deadlock following
a scoreless first period on a wrist shot from the left circle that slid
under traffic in front and through the five-hole of Mezsargs for a
power-play goal 7:58 into the second frame.
McTavish doubled Canada’s lead just 2:03 later, but there would be a
Latvian response in the closing moments of the period when Anri Ravinskis
pulled one back with 42 seconds on the clock.
Dylan Guenther (Edmonton, Alta./Edmonton, WHL) restored the two-goal gap on
a cross-ice feed from McTavish, but Latvia wasn’t about to go away quietly.
Vilmanis’ put a perfect backhand over Gaudreau’s left shoulder with 6:33
left in the contest, but despite late pressure and 15 shots in the final
frame, a late infraction and McTavish’s third goal of the tournament with
less than a minute left put an end to any hopes for a hard-fought comeback
After taking stock during a day off from competition Thursday, Canada will
be back in Group A action Friday night when it entertains Switzerland (9
p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).