Latvia nips Norway, edges closer to hockey quarters

Latvia’s outlook for getting into the quarterfinals of the 2008 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship has improved with a 4-1 victory May 11 over Norway.

After falling to Finland two days earlier, Latvia needed a pick-me-up. With the qualifying round win over Norway, the Latvians are in a position to advance to the quarterfinals if they can beat Germany and if Norway falls to the United States, according to IIHF official reports and statistics.

Against Norway, Latvia scored the first goal at 11 minutes, 34 seconds into the first period. Mārtiņš Cipulis, aided by Jānis Sprukts, got the puck past Norwegian goaltender Pal Grotnes. Norway answered about a minute and half later, when Lars Erik Spets scored against Latvian goalie Edgars Masaļskis. Spets was helped by Anders Bastiansen and Jonas Holos. But at 17:22, Latvia moved ahead off the stick of Herberts Vasiļjevs, assisted by Mārtiņš Karsums.

During the second period, Miķelis Rēdlihs scored at 12:27 to make it 3-1. He was assisted by Armands Bērziņš and Lauris Dārziņš. And with less than a minute to play in the third period, Dārziņš added an empty-net goal for Latvia. Georgijs Pujacs and goalkeeper Masaļskis earned the assists.

Overall, Latvia had 30 shots on goal for the game, compared to Norway’s 23. Each team spent a total of 10 minutes in the penalty box.

Latvia faces Germany at 8:15 p.m. May 12 in Halifax Metro Centre, 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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