Latvia smashes France, prepares for Russian hockey

After crushing France 7-1, Latvia is set to face Russia in the International Ice Hockey Federation’s World Championship in Bern, Switzerland.

The May 2 qualifying round match against France was perhaps one of the easier games Latvia has had in the tournament. The victory also moved Latvia closer to the quarterfinals.

Latvia’s first goal came on a power play at 7 minutes, 29 seconds into the first period, according to a game summary posted on the IIHF’s Web site, Aleksandrs Niživijs, assisted by Guntis Galviņš, scored against French goalkeeper Fabrice Lhenry.

The Latvians added two more goals during the second period. Mārtiņš Cipulis, assisted by Niživijs and Herberts Vasiļjevs, scored at 1:19. Lauris Darziņš scored at 3:55, aided by Kristaps Sotnieks and Rodrigo Laviņš.

The scoring continued in the third period. At 6:39, Kārlis Skrastiņš got the puck in the net with help from Mārtiņš Karsums. Less than two minutes later, Aleksandrs Jerofejevs scored with an assist from Aleksejs Širokovs.

The French finally got on the scoreboard at 11:38 into the third period. Luc Tardif scored against Latvian goalkeeper Edgars Masaļskis. Stéphane da Costa was credited with the assist. Although the Latvians were still up 5-1, that did not deter them from continued their attacks on the French net. At 12:24, Ģirts Ankipāns, helped by Vasiļjevs and Karsums, made it 6-1. Just 15 seconds later, Cipulis got the last goal, assisted again by Niživijs and Vasiļjevs.

For the game, Latvia had 38 shots on goal, while France had 28. Latvian players spent six minutes in the penalty box, while French players spent 10.

Latvia’s game against 2008 champion Russia is scheduled for 20:15 hours Swiss time May 3 in the Bern’s PostFinance Arena. After six games in the championship, Latvia has a record of five wins and just one loss. Russia is unbeaten.

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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