Latvia tops Slovenia, moves to next round

Latvia will move on to the qualifying round of the 2006 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship after besting Slovenia 5-1 in a May 9 preliminary game in Rīga.

The victory also assures Latvia it will play in the elite division of the 2007 World Championship in Russia, according to the official championship Web site,

The hometown team fell behind 5 minutes 35 seconds into the first period when Slovenia’s Mitja Sivic, assisted by Luka Zagar, got the puck past Latvia’s goalkeeper Sergejs Naumovs, according to a game summary posted on the Web site.

Going into this final game of the preliminary round, Latvia needed to at least tie Slovenia if it was to advance to the qualifying round. The team made good in the second period, scoring four times.

The first goal came 4:15 into the period, when Aleksandrs Semjonovs scored with help from Aleksandrs Ņiživijs and Miķelis Rēdlihs. The winning point was off the stick of Mārtiņš Cipulis, who scored at 8:20 with an assist from Jānis Sprukts. Aleksandrs Jerofejevs, assisted by Ņiživijs and Leonīds Tambijevs, made it 3-1 on a power play at 9:51 into the period. And then Tambijevs, helped by Ņiživijs, scored at 17:51 to put Latvia on top 4-1.

Latvia added its fifth and final point 10:51 into the third period. Herberts Vasiļjevs scored the goal, assisted by Atvars Tribuncovs and Aleksejs Širokovs.

Naumovs stopped all but one of Slovenia’s 18 shots on goal. Slovenia goalkeeper Robert Kristan faced 29 Latvian shots, stopping 24.

Slovenian players spent 24 minutes in the penalty box, with 12 of those belonging to defenseman David Rodman. Latvia earned 16 minutes of penalty time.

Latvia joins Finland and the Czech Republic in advancing from the Group A preliminary round to the qualifying round, with games scheduled from May 11-16 in Rīga.

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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