International Ice Hockey Federation

First game secured

First game secured

Latvia opens relegation round with 5-3 victory

Published 23.04.2015 15:03 GMT+2 | Author Chapin Landvogt
First game secured
ZUG, SWITZERLAND - APRIL 23: Latvia's Eriks Zohovs #15 reaches for the puck while Germany's Christoph Korner #20 defends during relegation round action at the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship. (Photo by Francois Laplante/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Game one to serve as the tone-setter for one of the teams in the Best-of-Three relegation round

Based solely on the preliminary round goal difference at this 2015 U18 World Championship, Latvia is entering the relegation round as the favorite to retain the class.

With nerves clearly evident on both sides, the first period would witness several goals and lots of physical play. Checks were being thrown by both sides with regularity and this caused for a number of puck losses and puck-related errors. Germany was able to make use of this just one minute into the game when Christoph Kiefersauer picked up a forced turnover in the slot and deked out Latvian goalie Mareks Mitens.

Martins Dzierkals tied things at one at the 15:20 mark when his wrist shot for roughly the right face-off circle made it past German goalie Mirko Pantkowski’s glove hand.

Sloppy play continued to rule and the teams traded off several penalties and power plays until the Latvians were able to take advantage of one, going up 2-1 off a snapshot from defenseman Karlis Cukste found its way through traffic and into the goal with just under five minutes to play in the first period.

Germany would get a chance to go on the power play for pretty much the remainder of the period, but with just two seconds to go in the period, a shorthanded attempt was made possible by Rihards Puide, who skated to the net and saw the rebound of his attempt knocked in by Eduards Tralmaks.

The second period turned into a perimeter game of chess where neither team was willing to invest so much into an attack that it may create a whole in its defense. Patrick Berger was put into goal for Germany, but didn’t fare much better than his counterpart. Filips Buncis even gave Latvia a 4-1 lead with 13:40 left in the second period on what seemed to be a harmless play. It caught Pantkowski by surprise and snuck in on his stick side.

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As the period wore down, it was clear that the Latvians were very comfortable with the pace and their 4-1 lead. Things got rough and the teams showed no love for each other, which led to several German power plays, but neither team added to the score over the final 13 plus minutes of the period.

Germany started the third period with two straight power plays, but couldn’t get anything mustered. As if acknowledging their fate for today, the team allowed the fifth goal against with little ado at the 47:43 mark when Latvian captain Kristaps Zile slapped a shot by Berger.

The Germans managed to make things a bit more interesting and show Latvia that they will not crawl under a rock for the next game when Captain Jakub Mayenschein scored with four minutes left to play and then Lukas Kolble added a power play goal two minutes later. It was too little too late.

With that, the Latvians will have a shot to end their tournament with a successful class retention starting at 6 pm in Lucerne. For Germany, the only option is to play two to-or-die games. Anything less than two wins will mean relegation for a program that has seen its U20 and its women’s national teams be relegated.



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