Latvian hockey fans hoping for an exciting match against Switzerland got their money’s worth April 30 as their team emerged with a 2-1 victory at the end of a dramatic and penalty filled game.
The Latvians and the Swiss faced each other as the qualfiying round of the International Ice Hockey Federation’s World Championship got underway in Bern, Switzerland. For the second time this week, the Latvians were forced into a shootout to resolve a game.
The Swiss kept Latvia’s defense busy, letting loose shot after shot against goaltender Edgars Masaļskis, according to a game summary posted on the IIHF’s Web site, www.iihf.com. But it was the Latvians who scored first. At 15:30 into the first period, Mārtiņš Cipulis on a power play got the puck past Swiss goalkeeper Martin Gerber. Cipulis was assisted by Herberts Vasiļjevs and Aleksandrs Niživijs.
The teams went scoreless through the second period, even though the Swiss kept up their attacks and both squads continued to rack up penalty minutes. The Swiss even got called for having too many players on the ice.
But just as the game seemed to be about done, the Swiss regrouped. With Latvia’s Kristaps Sotnieks cooling off in the penalty box, the Swiss pulled Gerber out of their net, added another player to the offense and took advantage of a power play. With 90 seconds to go in the third period, Switzerland’s Andres Ambühl, assisted by Roman Wick and Mark Streit, evened up the score and forced the game into overtime.
Five minutes of overtime failed to resolve the outcome, leading to a shootout that Latvia won thanks to Niživijs. Two days earlier, Latvia had surprised Sweden in a shootout victory.
For the game, Switzerland had 39 shots on goal compared to Latvia’s 22. Latvian players spent 22 minutes in the penalty box, compared to 12 for the Swiss.
Latvia now has a day off. It will face France in a game scheduled to begin at 16:15 Swiss time on May 2 in Bern’s PostFinance Arena. Latvia then goes up against perennial rival Russia—last year’s world champion—in a game set May 3.
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