This has been a banner year for Latvian hockey.
After giving eventual Olympic gold medalist Canada all it could handle in Sochi three months ago, Latvia — which carries just one NHL player on its roster and is not exactly known as a hockey hotbed — overwhelmed the United States on Thursday, beating goaltender Tim Thomas six times in a thrilling 6-5 win at the IIHF World Championship in Belarus.
The win, Latvia’s third of the tournament, was its first over the U.S. since 2001.
“Six goals is just too many,” Team USA and Nashville Predators defenseman Seth Jones said after the game. “We have to help Tim better than we did today. We are doing a lot of good things but have to tighten up defensively, both forwards and defensemen. We can’t let teams get too close to the net.”
Latvia got on the board first at the 15:39 mark of the first period and never trailed in the game. Three different players (including former Boston Bruins forward Kaspars Daugavins) tallied a goal and an assist for Latvia, and Jones led all scorers with three points (one goal, two assists).
Kristers Gudlevskis, who stopped 55 Canada shots in Latvia’s Olympic upset bid, finished with 31 saves in the win, while Thomas recorded 19.
The U.S. takes on Kazakhstan on Friday and Finland on Sunday to close out preliminary-round play.
Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@LatviaInstitute