Latvian hockey advances to next round

With a 3-1 victory over Kazakhstan, Latvia’s national hockey team has advanced to the qualifying round of the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship underway in the Czech Republic.

The April 27 game at first didn’t look good for Latvia, according to official game statistics posted on Shot after shot from the Latvians was stopped by Kazakhstan’s goaltender Vitaliy Yeremeyev. In all, Latvia got off 30 shots against the goaltender. That compared to only 15 by Kazakhstan, all but one of which were stopped by veteran Artūrs Irbe.

After a scoreless first period, Kazakhstan’s Anatoliy Filatov earned a point for his team 12.5 minutes into the second period.

Its hopes for the qualifying round seeming to fade, Latvia returned in the third period to dispose of Kazakhstan with three strong goals, two of them on power plays.

Aleksandrs Ņiživijs, with assistance from Atvars Tribuncovs and Grigorijs Panteļejevs, tied up the game 3 minutes and 27 seconds into the final period. Then, in the 16th minute of play, Sergejs Žoltoks got the game-winning goal with help from Vjačeslavs Fanduļs and Normunds Sējējs.

And in the last seconds of the game, Žoltoks returned the favor by helping Fanduļs add one more point for Latvia.

Kazakhstan led in penalties with its players spending a total 12 minutes in the time-out box, compared to just 6 minutes for Latvia.

While Latvia joins the Czech Republic and Germany as Group A teams advancing to the qualifying round, Kazakhstan will find itself competing in the relegation round.

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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