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Germany destroyed the bronze medalist of the World Hockey Championship. Shouldn’t Latvia expect a repeat of its success?

Date: May 20, 2024 Time: 02:04:01

“Kaspars, don’t end your career again,” the IIHF’s official website joked in the first half of the day. Every year during the World Cup, the International Federation website compiles, half-jokingly, “power rankings”: despite the signature, Latvia’s fifth place in the rankings was quite serious. Kaspars Daugavins scored two winning goals in extra time and the Latvians made it three early victories.

It is true that the issue was the level of resistance. The bronze medalists from the last World Cup began the tournament with the three easiest opponents and almost lost in the first match. The Polish team, despite the obvious lack of playing skill, took advantage of its organization, took advantage of a couple of ridiculous rebounds and Elvis Merzlikin’s mistakes in goal, and then took the game to overtime. The match with Kazakhstan was a bit gloomy in terms of the quality of the game, the match with France was decided only in the last second of extra time.

It must be said that last year’s bronze was not entirely accidental. The Latvian national team has more than survived the departure of Bob Hartley, who in 2018 led the team to the first World Cup playoffs in nine years. Harijs Vitolins, who was always blocked by Oleg Znarok in the KHL, after reaching the position of head coach, did not abandon high-quality pressing and generally instilled in the team good hockey, and not a game of patience with guidance towards his own goalkeeper.

Last year, of course, a lot of things came together. First of all, the local tournament: for a long time it was the nightmare of the favorites, who could not win it, but it gave an extra boost to the middle teams. For example, the Germans reached the semi-finals in 2010, where they almost dragged the match against Russia into overtime. Secondly, last year’s championship was marked by very weak teams. Thirdly, in the quarterfinals the Latvians were lucky to reach Sweden: of all the best teams, it is Tre Krunur that most often gives joy to middle peasants and outsiders.

Artur Shilov (right)


Finally, the fourth reason is Arthur Shilov. Last year’s World Cup in Latvia was started by Ivars Punnenovs, who conceded two goals from the Canadians in five minutes. After that, Shilov came on as a substitute and never left the goal again. In that same quarterfinal, Arthur stopped 40 of 41 Swedish shots, and his team scored two goals after 15 attempts. It’s fitting that Shilov was named tournament MVP after his team’s historic success, and now he’s become the sudden hero of Vancouver, which has lost two of its top, well-paid goaltenders.

How is Shilov now?

The newcomer from Latvia is the main sensation of the NHL playoffs! Who is Artur Shilov?

Overall, last year’s number one should have been Elvis Merzlikin; However, after the tragic death of Matis Kivlenieks, the goalkeeper’s entire career went downhill. “The press should think about why it is unpleasant for me to return home because of their criticism,” the Latvian goalkeeper said recently, after which he failed the first match of the tournament with the Poles, which was already written about earlier.

The legendary Arthur Irbe, who works on this team, justified his pupil: “Perhaps at some point in childhood, when 60 or 70 shots were taken per game, this could have been like this. But I don’t remember anything like that in such high-level matches. Four goals conceded after rebounds from their own players is something completely unprecedented. Although I see that happen quite often in the NHL now because the goalies are so good that it’s hard for them to score otherwise.”

However, after the first two games that Merzlikin played, Kristers Gudlevskis entered Kazakhstan and “dried up” the opponent. After the legendary quarterfinal with Canada, it seemed that Goodley could break into the NHL, but for the Latvian that game remained the best of his career. In the “lightning” Kristers lost the competition to Andrei Vasilevsky (and who could have won it then?), in the fall of 2018 he returned to Dynamo Riga, had a sensational first half of the season and then the percentage of reflected shots collapsed . Even before the Latvians left the KHL, Kristers played in the Slovak league and the Swedish league.

The rights to the video belong to the International Ice Hockey Federation. You can watch the video on the official IIHF YouTube channel.

Today Gudlevskis missed four goals and left the goal, where Merzlikin took his place. And it must be said that some of these goals seemed committed, but the defensive performance of the Latvian team could only cause confusion. For example, in the minority, the Latvians allowed defender Kai Wisman to pass, who had not scored a goal at club level for several seasons. Already in the second half, the Vitolins team imitated the defense instead of playing, silently witnessing the German combinations.

“We need to show character and win a couple of games. We have to play better with the puck, we have to make better decisions, we are not doing what was agreed upon beforehand. In the episodes in which the goals failed, we played very freely, that cannot be done,” Rodrigo Abols told the local press. “Germany is more likely to win than Latvia. They came to the game more prepared than us. This is hockey, life doesn’t end there, there are many games ahead in the group tournament in which we can recover our game. Even at 1:8 our fans shout “Latvia! Latvia” and we know that they are the best in the world,” said defender Kārlis Čukste.

It is true that in future games it will not be easy. The peculiarities of the IIHF schedule finally “give in” to Sweden, Slovakia and the United States, and to get to the playoffs the Latvians will have to beat at least one of these teams in regulation time. It will work?

* This website provides news content gathered from various internet sources. It is crucial to understand that we are not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of the information presented Read More

Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.

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