Kazakhstan dashes last hockey hopes

Latvia’s ice hockey team was unable to lift itself out of the Olympic cellar, losing 5-2 to Kazakhstan on Feb. 21, and so its time in Turin, Italy, is done.

While Latvia shocked the United States with a 3-3 tie on Feb. 15 in the team’s first game of the 2006 Winter Olympics, it subsequently was trounced by Slovakia (6-3 on Feb. 16), Sweden (6-1 on Feb. 18) and Russia (9-2 on Feb. 19). Going into their last preliminary round game, Kazakhstan found itself in last place in Group B, while Latvia was second to last.

Twelve teams, split into two six-team groups, began the ice hockey competition. The four best teams in each group move on to the next level of play.

Kazakhstan scored the first goal 7 minutes and 20 seconds into the game, according to the official Web site of the Winter Olympics, www.torino2006.org. Alexandr Koreshkov, with an assist from his brother Yevgeniy, slipped the puck past Latvian goalkeeper Sergejs Naumovs.

Latvia’s Leonīds Tambijevs, assisted by Aleksandrs Ņiživijs, evened up the score on a power play 15:20 into the game.

Kazakstan’s Nikolay Antropov, with help from Yevgeniy Koreshkov, got his country’s second goal 15:04 into the second period, putting Latvia behind 1-2.

The Latvians tied up the game 5:04 into the third period, when Aigars Cipruss scored with assistance from Grigorijs Panteļejevs and Atvars Tribuncovs.

But from there on, the game turned sour for the Latvians.

Kazakhstan regained the upper hand 12:33 into the period off the stick of Sergey Alexandrov, who was helped by Fedor Polichshuk and Andrey Trochshinskiy. Two minutes and 20 seconds later, Kazakhstan added another point on a penalty shot by Yevgeniy Koreshkov, raising the score to 4-2.

Kazakhstan’s final goal, with just under two minutes left in the game, again was credited to the Koreshkov brothers, this time with Yevgeniy scoring and Alexandr assisting.

Final results show that Naumovs stopped 25 of Kazakhstan’s 30 shots on goal, while Kazakhstan’s goalkeeper Vitaliy Yeremeyev stopped 30 of Latvia’s 32 shots. Latvia racked up 12 minutes of penalties compared to Kazakhstan’s six.

Latvia ended up in last place in its group. A final overall ranking won’t be known until after Group A finishes its preliminary round games.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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