Team Canada, ranked 3rd after the preliminary round, faced off against Team Latvia today in the quarterfinals. Latvia stunned Switzerland yesterday, winning 3-1 to keep their Olympic hopes alive. To keep moving on they would have to get through the reigning gold medal winners though, no easy task. Puck drop was at 9:00 PM local Sochi time, noon EST.
The shots on goal, along with the score, tells the story of this game, Canada put 57 shots on net, and Latvia only 16. The Canadians kept pushing, but the Latvians withstood the pressure, for the most part. The first period ended as a 1-1 tie, not a score anyone expected. Canada opened up the scoring in the game, Patrick Sharp put the puck in the back of the net just past the halfway mark. Just minutes later Latvia evened the score though, Lauris Darzins was the goal scorer. As mentioned, the period ended all tied up at 1 goal a piece.
The second period moved on quite like the first, no goals were scored though. Three minor penalties were given, two for Latvia, one for Canada, but neither team could capitalize on the man advantage. Latvian goaltender, Kristers Gudlevskis, continued to handle the onslaught of shots, stopping 15 of 16 in the first, and 19 of 19 in the second period. Gudlevskis was easily the main attraction of this game, and he was keeping Latvia alive throughout this game.
The third period started, and as the clock slowly ticked down, the crowd began to get louder and louder. Every save and scrum, to the Latvian rushes towards the Canadian crease, the crowd was intense!
It all came down to the final ten minutes of the period, neither team could score in the first ten, and it was decided just after that point. Shea Weber scored the second goal of the game for the Canadians, and the eventual game-winner. The Latvians were on the penalty kill, and with only seconds left to kill, the Canadians won an offensive zone face off and within seconds the puck was in the back of the net.
The Latvians put up one heck of a fight, and the Canadians narrowly won the game in the end. Kristers Gudlevskis made 56 saves in the loss, Carey Price stopped 15 of 16.
Team Canada moves on to the semifinals to face Team USA – a rematch of the 2o10 Vancouver Olympics gold medal game. Below is the updated bracket for the tournament…