Latvia avoids relegation in hockey championship

With a 3-0 victory over Slovenia, the Latvian squad has managed to avoid relegation at the close of its preliminary round of the 2008 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship in Canada.

The Latvians made quick work of the Slovenes, according to statistics of the May 6 game provided by the IIHF. After a scoreless first period in the Halifax Metro Centre, Latvia’s Aleksandrs Ņiživijs earned the team’s first goal on a penalty shot 10 minutes, 5 seconds into the second period. A little more than a minute later, Aleksejs Širokovs took advantage of a power play to make it 2-0, slipping the puck past Slovenia’s goaltender, Robert Kristan. Jānis Sprukts and Mārtiņš Cipulis were credited with assists.

Širokovs also scored Latvia’s third goal. At 9:32 into the third period, assisted by Cipulis, he shot into an empty Slovene net.

Goaltender Edgars Masaļskis was in the Latvian net for the entire game.

Overall, the Latvians had 37 shots on goal compared to 17 for the Slovenes. Slovenia spent 16 minutes in the penalty box, while the Latvians spent 12.

The Latvian team, which before the championship was ranked 10th in the world, now advances to the qualification round where it will face Finland and two other national teams from among Germany, Norway and Slovakia. The qualification round lineup will not be clear until after two preliminary games to be played May 7.

Latvia’s first game in the qualification round is scheduled at 12:30 p.m. May 9 in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

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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