Photo Credit: ©Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports 2/14/2014

Team Canada Squeezes Past Team Latvia, Heads Into Semifinals


 

Team Canada seemed shell-shocked by the underdogs, Team Latvia in the quarterfinals. What should have been an easy game to win, ended up being a struggle for the Canadians.

Martin St. Louis returned to the line-up while Matt Duchene was scratched. Carey Price started in net and was led by Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz, and Patrice Bergeron up front while Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Jamie Benn made up the second line. Rick Nash, John Tavares, and Patrick Sharp were the fourth line players today which turned out to be a mixture of fire and ice during the game. While Sharp acquired a goal for Canada, Tavares left the game in the second period, not to return because of a knee injury.

It was the six million dollar team vs the 150 million dollar team in what turned out to almost be the upset in Olympic men’s hockey at Bolshoy Ice Dome in Sochi, Russia.

Goalie troubles were not a problem for Team Latvia even though one of their goalies had food poisoning and the other was “worn out” and couldn’t play (as was explained by the CBC commentators). Kristers Gudlevskis, the 21 year old Tampa Bay Lightning draft pick from 2013, stunned Team Canada with his effective and impressive net minding throughout the entire game.

During the first period, Latvia played a strong, hard-hitting game even though the shots on net were in Canada’s favour. Sharp scored the first goal of the game to put Canada up by one, but not for long. Lauris Darzins evened the score to end the first frame. There was no scoring in the second period, but there were a lot of hits and a lot of chances by both teams. Canada couldn’t get past the goaltending and solid defense of the Latvian team.

It all came down to the last twenty minutes of play as Latvia started the period strong again with their physicality. Canada came back with a lot of pressure of Gudlevskis. That pressure finally worked and Shea Weber got the game winning goal to lead Team Canada into the semifinals.

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