Latvia lets it slip away

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:06 AM ET

HALIFAX -- It was all there for Latvia.

Leading 3-2 after two periods, all they had to do was make it through regulation with a tie and they'd be playing Canada in a quarter-final at the IIHF World Hockey Championship.

But with hundreds of Latvian fans in the stands, trying to will them into the elite eight, everything came unravelled in the third period and Latvia lost 6-3 to Germany.

The result meant Norway, a team which had lost 9-1 to the U.S. earlier yesterday, a team that lost 2-1 to Canada on a late goal by Rick Nash, gets a do-over against the Canadians in the go-on or go-home game here tomorrow.

"Unbelievable," said George Kingston, the Canadian who has returned to run Norway hockey programs..

"Latvia is up by a goal after two periods. All they need is a tie in regulation to get through. Latvia just got too carried away with emotion. They took stupid penalties.

"For Norway this is huge. We're not happy to be going in the back door like this. The last two games we haven't played as well as a team should play that's deserving of being in the quarter-finals. We have to get back to the game we played against Finland, against Germany and against Canada in the front end of the tournament."

Never before has Norway gone this deep at the world championships. Technically, they finished eighth in 1990. But there were only eight teams in the tournament back then. And they ended up being relegated and not being back for the tournament the following year.

ONE MORE POINT

A team that lost 4-1 to Latvia on Sunday ended up with one more point in the standings thanks to taking Finland to overtime early in the tournament.

"Those referees are like that every year, especially for our team," said Latvian goaltender Edgar Masalskis.

After that rant, he conceded his team didn't deserve to win the way it played.

"Both teams didn't play too well in the first two periods. In the third period they woke up and we didn't wake up. Their third goal just broke us. I can't believe we lost."

After 46 preliminary and qualification round games, the IIHF World Championship gets to the games where a win takes you to the medal round on the weekend in Quebec City and a loss ends your tournament.

Canada vs. Norway.

Finland vs. U.S.

Russia vs. Switzerland

Czech Republic vs. Sweden.

LEAST SCARY

At least Canada, with a 6-3 win over Finland here yesterday, has drawn the least scary opponent for the most scary game of the tournament, although they only won 2-1 over Norway and defeated Latvia 7-0 in pool play.

The Americans, who had left the ice after losing 3-2 in a game which featured a phantom goal through the mesh at the side of the net which sent a Swedish video replay judge home, were back on the ice 17 hours later with no ill-effects.

"We've been playing well all tournament," said U.S. head coach John Tortorella.

"It was really good to get out there today and move on from the night before," added the coach who received a hat trick from mid-tournament injury substitute Brandon Dubinsky.

"We simply got spanked," said Norway captain Tommy Jacobsen. "I think the way we played today was because of too much disappointment because of losing to Latvia the day before."

In Quebec City, a 5-3 win by Russia over Switzerland resulted in the Russians drawing the Swiss for a quarter-final match-up with the Czech Republic against Sweden.

Should Canada not stumble against Norway, they'd draw the winner of the Czech-Sweden game in the semifinal Friday in Quebec City and avoid the prospects of facing the Russians until the gold medal game.


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