Canada’s victory over Latvia’s national hockey squad in the preliminary round of the 2005 World Championship in Austria came as little surprise, but the trouble it took has observers talking.
Canada won 6-4 over Latvia in an April 30 game that many predicted would be much more one-sided, especially after Latvia’s head coach, Leonīds Beresņevs, opted to initially put Edgars Masaļskis in the goal rather than the veteran Artūrs Irbe.
The first goal of the game came 2:55 into the first period, when Canada’s Brendan Morrison scored on a power play. But Latvia’s Aleksandrs Semjonovs answered about a half-minute later, getting the puck past Canadian goalkeeper Martin Brodeur, according to official game statistics posted on IHWC.net.
During the second period, Canada’s offense turned up the heat, adding four more goals, while Latvia got just one more off the stick of Ģirts Ankipāns. After Canada’s fourth goal of the period, Irbe replaced Masaļskis as Latvia’s goalkeeper.
Canada’s 5-2 lead going into the third period may have appeared solid, but Latvia wasn’t quite finished. Just over a minute into the period, Jānis Sprukts scored on a power play. A few minutes later, Kārlis Skrastiņš added another point, bringing Latvia to within one goal of a tie with the reigning world champions. But then Canada’s Rick Nash, who had already scored two goals during the game, added another to push his team to its 6-4 victory.
Masaļskis had 24 saves on 29 shots on goal, while Irbe had 15 saves for 16 shots on goal. Canada’s Brodeur had 20 saves for 24 shots of goal.
The game, played in Innsbruck’s Olympiaworld center, was watched by 5,344 spectators.
Latvia next faces the United States in a game scheduled May 3 in Innsbruck.
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