CANADA HOLDS OFF LATVIA, BOOKS SEMIFINAL SPOT AT U18 WORLDS
JASON LA ROSE
UMEÅ, Sweden – Taylor Gauthier (Calgary, Alta./Prince George, WHL) was terrific in a 38-save performance and Peyton Krebs (Okotoks, Alta./Winnipeg, WHL) scored twice, leading Canada to a 3-1 quarter-final win over Latvia on Thursday at the 2019 IIHF U18 World Championship.
The Canadians are into the semifinals for the first time since 2016; they will face the host Swedes on Saturday (1:30 p.m. ET/10:30 a.m. PT) in Örnsköldsvik.
Braden Schneider (Prince Albert, Sask./Brandon, WHL) had the other goal for Canada, which was pushed to the limit by a Latvian team making its first-ever appearance in the medal round.
After both teams failed on power-play opportunities in the opening 10 minutes, Schneider jumped into the rush, took a feed from Brayden Tracey (Calgary, Alta./Moose Jaw, WHL) and went five-hole on Latvian goaltender Arturs Silovs just before the 14-minute mark.
Krebs extended the lead to 2-0 at 7:34 of the second period on a weird one; off a lost face-off by the Canadian captain, the puck hit a Latvian stick and trickled through Silovs for the eventual game-winner.
Latvia, which scored only six goals in four preliminary-round games, buzzed in the third period and capitalized on Canadian penalty trouble to get on the board; Harijs Brants ripped a one-timer past Gauthier on a two-man advantage to make it 2-1 with 10 minutes to go.
The Europeans would get no closer, and Krebs wrapped up the win into an empty net with 19.3 seconds left after terrific work in the defensive zone by Schneider and Connor Zary (Saskatoon, Sask./Kamloops, WHL).
Canada finished with a 43-39 edge in shots on goal.