Category: World Championships (Page 1 of 12)

Kazakhstan’s women’s team emerged victorious over Spain, securing the World Championship title in Group II A

By National Teams of Ice Hockey

During the last game of the Women’s World Championship in Group II A, the Kazakhstan team emerged victorious over Spain with a score of 5-3. As a result of this triumph, Kazakhstan will advance to compete in Group I B in the upcoming year. This victory marks a significant achievement for the Kazakhstan team, showcasing their skill and determination on the international stage.

The trio’s outstanding performances throughout the championship earned them well-deserved recognition for their contributions to their team’s success. Chshyokolova’s stellar goalkeeping skills, Shegay’s crucial goal, and Orazbayeva’s overall outstanding play were instrumental in securing victory in the final game. Their individual awards were a testament to their hard work and dedication on the ice.

The Gold Medal is secured by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

By National Teams of Ice Hockey

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRKs), which has not competed since 2019. There was a sense of mystery surrounding the DPRK’s return to the international stage.

As the tension mounted, fans eagerly awaited the highly anticipated showdown between Australia and  Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRKs). The atmosphere was electric as both teams took to the ice for the crucial match that would determine the group winner. With everything on the line, the players left it all out on the ice in a thrilling display of skill and determination.

In the end, it was  Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRKs) who emerged victorious, narrowly edging out Australia in a hard-fought battle that went down to the wire. The final score was a testament to the competitive spirit of both teams, with  Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRKs) securing a 1-0 penalty shootout win to claim the top spot in the group. The victory was a sweet moment of triumph for the  Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRKs) in team, who had fought tirelessly throughout the tournament.

The tension was palpable as the shootout unfolded, with each goal adding to the excitement of the moment. Su Hyon Jong and Hyang Jang’s successful shots for DPRKs put them in a favorable position, while Phoebe Roberts’ goal for Australia kept the match intense. The final result of 2-1 penalty shootout in favor of DPRKs showcased the resilience and skill of both teams, with DPRKs ultimately clinching the gold medal in a hard-fought battle.

The intense showdown culminated in a thrilling finish, with Jang’s skillful goal and Kum Hyang Jo’s remarkable saves highlighting the determination and talent displayed by both teams. The resilience of the goalkeepers in the shootout added to the excitement of the match, leaving a lasting impression on the spectators and solidifying the significance of teamwork and individual brilliance in the world of sports.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRKs) achieved an impressive feat in their recent victory, securing a total of four regulation wins and one shootout win. This outstanding performance earned them a remarkable 14 points, surpassing Australia by a single point. Australia also showcased their strength with four regulation wins and a shootout loss. DPRKs commenced their tournament with a dominant 5-1 triumph over New Zealand, followed by a resounding 14-0 victory against South Africa. Additionally, they triumphed over Türkiye with a convincing 7-1 win. In their fourth game, DPRKs faced a tense battle against Hong Kong, narrowly emerging victorious with a close score of 2-1. Hong Kong also displayed their prowess throughout the tournament and ultimately secured the bronze medal.

Tournament’s Top Players

Türkiye’s: Erva Kanat – Top Goalkeeper 

Australia: Matilda Pethrick – Top Defender

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea: Su Hyon Jong – Top Forward

 

The women from Slovakia have achieved promotion after a successful campaign in the Division IB World Championships.

By National teams of Ice Hockey

Slovakia secured their spot in the Division IA Championship after claiming victory in the Division IB tournament held in Riga, Latvia.

The team from Slovakia finished the competition with four wins and one loss, earning a total of 12 points, narrowly missing out on second place to the host country, Latvia. 

The Slovakia team expressed apprehension regarding the possibility of promotion without their star player, Nela Lopusanova, who was absent in North America to compete in the USA Hockey National championships. However, the team prevailed even in her absence and managed to secure the gold medal.

Janka Hlinkova, a forward from Slovakia, was recognized as the best forward of the tournament, scoring three goals and accumulating eight points in five games.

Latvia’s Karina Silajane was voted as the Most Valuable Player by the media, leading the tournament in scoring with nine points in five games. The 21-year-old player had an impressive season with Riga in the Baltic league, scoring 38 points in 16 games.

Pia Dukaric, representing Slovenia, once again received the title of Best Goaltender at the Division IB competition, putting up a remarkable performance to prevent her team from relegation. Dukaric faced nearly 100 more shots than any other goaltender in the tournament and made 72 more saves than the next closest goaltender, achieving a save rate of 0.951 in five games.

Italy’s Laura Lobis was honored as the Top Defender of the competition, showcasing her skills and contribution to her team’s performance throughout the tournament.

Preview: 2024 IIHF Women’s World Ice Hockey Championship

By National Teams of Ice Hockey

As anticipation mounts and excitement fills the air, the stage is set for the 2024 IIHF Women’s World Ice Hockey Championship, promising an electrifying display of skill, determination, and international rivalry. Hosted in a venue pulsating with fervent fans and adorned with national colors, this prestigious tournament brings together the world’s finest female hockey players to compete for glory and the coveted title of world champions.

The tournament, slated to feature a lineup of powerhouse teams from across the globe, is expected to showcase a thrilling array of fast-paced action and strategic brilliance on the ice. Reigning champions will defend their honor against formidable challengers hungry for victory, setting the scene for intense clashes and unforgettable moments.

Key contenders such as United States, the Canada, Finland, and Switzerland are poised to assert their dominance, armed with seasoned veterans and rising stars eager to leave their mark on the international stage. Each team brings its own unique style and strengths, promising a diverse tapestry of playing styles and tactics throughout the competition.

The tournament’s format, featuring a series of round-robin matches followed by knockout stages, ensures that every game is a crucial battle where the margin for error is razor-thin. With national pride at stake and dreams of championship glory driving them forward, players will leave nothing to chance as they vie for supremacy on the ice.

Off the ice, the tournament serves as a celebration of the growing popularity and global reach of women’s ice hockey, highlighting the skill, athleticism, and passion of its participants. From inspiring young fans to breaking down barriers and stereotypes, the championship continues to serve as a beacon of progress and empowerment within the world of sports.

As the countdown to the first puck drop begins, the world’s attention turns to the ice, and the excitement reaches a fever pitch. Get ready for an unforgettable tournament that promises to captivate fans and leave a lasting impact on the world of women’s ice hockey.

Thailand Women Promoted to Division III Group A

Thailand promoted to Division IIIA

By National Teams of Ice Hockey

Thailand’s women’s team has achieved a remarkable feat by securing promotion after emerging victorious in the Division IIIB World Tournament. This achievement not only highlights the talent and dedication of the Thai players but also showcases their ability to compete at an international level. The team’s hard work and perseverance have paid off, and they can now look forward to competing in higher divisions in the future.

Throughout the entire week, Thailand displayed dominance on the ice by allowing only one goal to be scored against them. Their impressive defensive skills were evident as they outscored their opponents by a significant margin of 20-1. This remarkable performance showcased Thailand’s strength and determination in the sport.

During their tournament, they managed to secure impressive victories, such as 4-0 shutouts against Israel and Singapore. Additionally, they achieved a narrow 1-0 shutout over Estonia, showcasing their defensive prowess. The highlight of their performance was an outstanding 11-1 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina, demonstrating their dominance on the ice.

Thamida Kunthadapakorn, a 17-year-old goalkeeper from Thailand, showcased an outstanding performance while playing for the Bangkok Warriors. In her two starts, she managed to stop all 39 shots she faced, resulting in shutouts for her team. Her exceptional skills and determination were evident as she successfully defended her team’s goal.

Thailand’s Wirasinee Rattananai emerged as the leading scorer of the tournament, accumulating six assists across four games.

The Thailand women’s national team has achieved a remarkable feat by securing victory in 18 consecutive matches, a streak that dates back to 2017. This impressive winning streak showcases the team’s dedication, skill, and ability to consistently perform at a high level on the field. The players and coaching staff have worked tirelessly to achieve this level of success, and their hard work and determination have clearly paid off.

03/07/17Philippines – Thailand121
03/11/17United Arab Emirates – Thailand117
03/12/17India – Thailand120
03/14/17Malaysia – Thailand116
03/15/17Singapore – Thailand16
03/10/18Singapore – Thailand110
04/14/19Chinese Taipei – Thailand23
04/18/19Singapore – Thailand19
04/19/19Malaysia – Thailand29
04/30/23United Arab Emirates – Thailand011
05/01/23Malaysia – Thailand011
05/03/23Singapore – Thailand213
05/06/23India – Thailand013
05/07/23Iran – Thailand13
03/24/24Israel – Thailand04
03/25/24Singapore – Thailand04
03/27/24Estonia – Thailand01
03/28/24Bosnia & Herzegovina – Thailand111

Thailand has been promoted to Group IIIA, marking a significant advancement for the country. On the other hand, Bulgaria, who had previously occupied the last position in Group IIIA, will now be demoted to Group IIIB. This reshuffling of groups reflects the varying performances of the two nations in the recent competition.

Ukraine Win Gold In Zagreb

Ukraine Women’s National Team capture gold in Zagreb.

By National Teams of Ice Hockey

The Ukrainian national team clashed with Croatia in an exhilarating match, falling behind with the first goal but swiftly equalizing early in the second half. Despite being a player short for a considerable duration, the Ukrainian women dominated the game until the final whistle, clinching a well-earned triumph. This victory marked their fifth consecutive win in the tournament, securing them a place in next year’s world championship Division II B.

The team’s last appearance in Division II B was in 2020, heightening the significance of this accomplishment. It was a momentous day for Valeria Manczak-Jensen, the team’s captain and top scorer in the Division III A championship, as she commemorates her birthday alongside the victory on the ice.

Thailand Makes History In Bishkek

By National Teams of Ice Hockey

The history of ice hockey in Thailand is marked by the achievement of the men’s team winning the World Championship Division III Group A. This victory granted them the opportunity to advance to Division III Group B for the first time, signifying their progress to a higher level. The young Thai team’s remarkable achievement further highlights their potential and determination.

In 2019, the Thai national team became a part of Division 3, Group B. However, they had to pause their participation in competitions for a period of 2 years due to the global outbreak of “COVID-19”. Finally, in 2022, they made a comeback and for the first time, the young Thai ice hockey team was promoted to compete in Division 3, Group A.

The outcome of the competition unfolded exactly as anticipated due to the Thai team’s disciplined style of play. Their aggressive offensive strategy, particularly from the defensive players, resulted in numerous goals. However, what truly stood out was their exceptional teamwork. They did not rely on any individual player but instead supported each other and executed tactics flawlessly. The team members’ abilities were on par with one another, leading to their triumph in Division 3, Group A. Remarkably, they achieved this feat without even completing all their matches, securing five consecutive victories (defeating Kyrgyzstan 9-4, Mexico 5-0, South Africa 5-1, Turkmenistan 13-3, and Luxembourg 6-1). This outstanding performance earned them a perfect 15 points, with 38 goals scored and only 9 goals conceded.

The Thai young team, which emerged victorious in Division 1 at the 2017 Asian Winter Games in Sapporo, has made significant strides over the past 7 years. This progress culminated in their recent triumph at the Division 3 World Championship, showcasing the growth and development of the team since their initial success in the Asian-level competition.

Comprised of a core group of athletes who were part of the Asian Games team 7 years ago, including Ken, Edwin Kindborn, Papan Thanakroekkiat, Tewin Chartsuwan, Jon Mikkhail Isaksson, Masato Kitayama, Rakchai Sukwiboon, and Phattharaphon Angulphatthanasuk, the team’s cohesion and experience played a pivotal role in their latest achievement on the world stage.

This victory marks the team’s second taste of success, further solidifying their reputation as a formidable force in international winter sports. It is worth noting that this accomplishment excludes the SEA Games, as it is considered a smaller tournament compared to the prestigious Asian Games and World Championships.

This year’s exceptional athletes include Ken Edwin Kindborn, the half-Thai-Swedish half-back captain known as Thailand’s top defender. He has consistently performed well since his debut with the national team in 2017, reaching his peak this year. Kindborn plays with freedom and complements the offensive strategy effectively, showcasing flawless defensive skills.

Another standout player is Papan Thanakrikkiat, who has impressed with his performance this year after being assigned to line 1. Playing alongside Ken Edwin Kindborn, the two have formed a strong defensive partnership, supporting each other on the field. Papan’s defensive prowess allows Ken to shine in the offensive plays, creating a dynamic duo on the team.

The attacking game displayed exceptional performance, with several players such as Jon Mikhail Isaksson, Nicholas Charles Lampson, and Masato Kitayama relentlessly pounding the opponent’s net while under the influence. This year, the striker trio consisting of Fun, Phandaj Khuhakaew, who is currently in excellent form and capable of scoring in nearly every match, is highly regarded. Unfortunately, Khuhakaew sustained an injury during the fourth game. On the other hand, players like Patrick Forstner, Phanuraj Suwachirat, Chanokchon Limpinphet, and Pan Hongsawat were deemed to have maintained satisfactory form. Overall, the team is perceived to be in a very good state.

Furthermore, the Thai team was honored with two prestigious accolades in the form of the best player awards. Ken Edwin Kindborn was recognized as the best defender, showcasing his exceptional skills and prowess on the ice. Similarly, Benjamin David Kleineschay was acknowledged as the best goalkeeper, highlighting his remarkable abilities in guarding the net. These commendations serve as a testament to the Thai team’s dedication and talent in the Ice Hockey World Championship, Division ll Group B. Despite the challenges posed by competing against teams with higher world rankings, the Thai team’s performance in the upcoming year in Division ll Group B will undoubtedly be eagerly anticipated. In the meantime, let us revel in their triumph by wholeheartedly celebrating their victory in Division lll.

Gen playing for Aussies in world championship

Forward Daniel O’Handley is playing for Australia at the IIHF Division II U20 men’s world championships.

Source : Cochrane Now

Cochrane Generals forward Daniel O’Handley heads out Thursday to join his teammates on Australia’s men’s U20 team to prepare for the IIHF Division II world championships in Belgrade, Serbia.

The 18-year forward journeyed from Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, to join the Gens this season, along with his older brother Morris, who plays defence. He’s no stranger to representing his country in international competition, playing in the U18 IIHF Div. 2 world championship last spring.

“It’s a great opportunity,” says O’Handley, “To represent my country is always a great honour and I look forward to it.”

The team will be training for about 10 days in Milan, Italy before heading to Belgrade, where the the world championship opens on Jan. 14.

He says the training will help the team gel before the tournament gets underway. He did play with a few of them at last spring’s world championship.

The O’Handley brothers signed with the Gens this fall. Before arriving here, they last played with the Adelaide Adrenaline in the Australian Ice Hockey League (AIHL). 

O’Handley says it’s something like a semi-pro league, with the top players in the country. No one gets paid, but many advance to Australia’s national teams.

He says there comes a point that if you want to get better at the sport, you have to leave Australia. 

“In the summer, there’s not much ice at all. so if you want to keep working on your game, you have to go somewhere else, which is kind of where I’m at right now.”

He says the Canadian game is faster and you have to work harder if you want to succeed.

“There’s so much more competition to make teams, so I think they compete at a much higher level, and it’s a lot more physical. I’ve noticed in Australia you can get away with a lot of stuff because the guys aren’t really playing physically, but here you’ve got to be a bit more switched on because guys are looking to throw body checks and stuff when they can.”

Gens head coach Kurtis Jones says O’Handley’s game has continued to improve since the beginning of the season.

“He’s an impact player, and he’s been playing very well for the last couple of months,” says Jones. “He’s starting to bring his game and feel a little bit more comfortable with us and the terminology and what kind of coach I am. Our goal is to help him succeed.”

Jones says they will lose him from the roster for the better part of January, but they’ll be watching and cheering him on at the Worlds.

“It will be a good experience for him and hopefully he’ll learn lots there and maybe bring some of that back to share with our coaching staff.”

O’Handley says he feels at home with the Gens.

“The guys are great, the staff is great. With the Gens, you do plenty in the community. At Christmas, we were helping families and we do lots of other stuff, so I’ve got to know a lot of people in the community. It’s been really good.”

He says the Gens got off to a strong start this season but recently has run into trouble against some of the top teams in the league due to injuries.

“I think when we have our full lineup, we’re pretty good. We’re all on the same page now so I think after Christmas everyone will be back and we’ll be ready to go.”

His brother Morris is one of the players who has been sidelined with an injury and has only recently returned to the ice. Morris has twice appeared with Australia’s U20 team at the world championship.

O’Handley has been playing since he was five and was introduced to the sport at a young age by his father Ryan, who played hockey growing up here before going on to play and coach at a high level in Australia.

“He got me on skates and then I kind of fell in love with it.”

At 6’1″, 201 lbs., O’Handley has appeared in 19 games with the Gens, with two goals, seven assists, and 20 penalty minutes.

Canada rallies to win gold

Canada overcame 1-0 and 2-1 deficits to claim their second gold medal in three years with a 5-2 win over Germany

By Andrew Podnieks – IIHF.com

Patient and calm, Canada scored the only three goals of the third period to break a 2-2 tie and claim their second gold medal in three years, defeating Germany, 5-2, in the final game of the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.

Samuel Blais made it 3-2 at 4:51 of the third, backhanding a rebound from in close, and Tyler Toffoli made it 4-2 on a 2-on-1, beating Mathias Niederberger five-hole for the insurance goal. Scott Laughton added an empty netter to seal the deal.

Blais’ goal, his second of the night and sixth of the tournament, was the result of a turnover by Maksymilian Szuber, who was stripped of the puck by Cody Glass behind the Germany goal. Glass tried a wraparound, and Blais took care of the rebound.

Toffoli’s goal was the result of another German error, this by Marcel Noebels, who moved into the slot in Canada’s end only to fan on a great scoring chance that might have tied the game. Instead, Toffoli claimed the lose puck and went up ice to score.

“It’s the team that wins, said assistant captain Milan Lucic, playing in his firstt World Championship. “We had a really good team that came together, and that’s why we’re champions. I always believed in this group. I think that was a big part of us winning the gold medal. Anytime Canada is in a tournament, we expect to win gold, Canadians expect us to win gold, so it’s nice to bring another championship home. The people of Canada really love and appreciate it.”

“I think we can be so proud of what we did here as Germans, after coming in here, losing the first three games,” said JJ Peterka. “And then with our backs to the wall, having a do-or-die game every game and coming together like that. Coming back late in the third against the U.S. just showed how much how much we wanted it. And today we wanted to [do it again], but sometimes it doesn’t happen. We were just so close. We were in the game in the third period. I think at the end, little mistakes kind of like cost us the game. Canada is too good. They took advantage of that and scored two goals.”

Canada has now been in 13 of the last 21 gold-medal games, winning seven, and has earned a medal in each of the last four years (two gold, two silver). In all, this is gold number 22 in the stand-alone World Championship history.

Today’s win was espeically notable for 18-year-old Adam Fantilli, who becomes just the second Canadian and 11th player to win World Junior gold and World Championship gold in the same season.

For Germany, the loss is a bitter pill to swallow, but the silver medal is their first at the World Championship since 1953 (when only three teams competed). In all, Germany has now won three silver medals (1930, 1953, 2023) and one bronze (1934), so this year’s achievement is nothing short of extraordinary.

“It’s something I can’t really describe right now,” said MacKenzie Weegar, the tournament’s leading scorer among defenders. “I’m just trying to take it all in at the moment. But right from training camp in Budapest, to Riga, to here it’s just been a really surreal experience and it’s all worth it with a gold medal around my neck. There were lots of bumps. Slovakia in OT, we lost to the Swiss, we lost to Norway. We had to come together and learn as a team. We stuck with it, we learned from our mistakes and we came out on top.”

Germany had the better start right from the opening faceoff, showing more interested in getting the puck deep and chasing it down. Canada looked tentative and unsure, and didn’t look particularly intent in playing in the offensive end. Slowly but surely, though, the game opened, and Germany struck first. 

Moritz Seider fired a long pass to JJ Peterka at the Canada blue line. He brought the puck under control and went in alone, snapping a shot under the glove on Samuel Montembeault at 7:44 to make it 1-0. Canada coach Andre Tourigny’s staff thought the play might have been offside and requested a coach’s challenge, thinking Peterka’s skates were inside the blue line as he tried to control the puck, which was right on the line. The video review favoured Germany, and Canada had to play a man down as well.

They weathered that storm and tied the game soon after off the rush. Jake Neighours made a pass in centre ice that hit a skate and bounced fortuitously to Peyton Krebs, and he went in on a 2-on-1 with Blais, who wired a shot high over Niederberger’s shoulder after getting the perfect feed from Krebs at 10:47.

Play turned tepid as the second period began as teams didn’t want to open up and leave themselves vulnerable. It became apparent this was going to be a low-scoring game, and goals would be hard to come by. Germany took the lead at 13:47 on a weird play. They tried to clear the puck in deep from centre but it hit a player at the blue line, then hit another man in front after an errant pass. But then it landed on the stick of Daniel Fischbuch, and he beat Montembeault before anyone knew what had happened.

But as in the first, Canada didn’t panic and tied the score less than four minutes later, on the power play. It was Krebs again who was the set-up man, this time finding Lawson Crouse in front, inside Germany’s defensive box. Crouse just redirected Krebs’s pass past Niederberger’s glove at 17:28.

In the third, it was all Canada, looking poised and confident, their experience in pressure games evident. It seemed just a matter of time before they would go ahead, and Blais provided the gold-medal-winning goal in due course.

Even at the end, when coach Harold Kreis pulled Niederberger for a sixth skater with 3:21 to play, Canada never looked like they would surrender the lead, and at 18:06 Laughton hit the empty net to start Canada’s celebrations early.

“I think it was an even fight, and if we learn from our mistakes, I think we’ll be in a good position in the upcoming years,” said Moritz Seider, the team’s young star on the blue line. “We haven’t done this in 70 years, so nobody can take that away from us. We made history today. The team made history, and I’m really proud of every one of us.”

Latvia wins historic bronze in OT

The Latvian team rejoices after a 4-3 overtime win over the U.S. in the bronze medal game of the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, Finland – Latvia.

By Lucas Aykroyd – IIHF.com

Kristians Rubins scored the late equalizer and the sudden-death winner at 1:22 as Latvia rallied to stun the U.S. 4-3 for the bronze medal at the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, Finland – Latvia. It’s the small Baltic nation’s first IIHF medal ever.

“For the big teams like Canada, this is what they do,” said an ecstatic Miks Indrasis. “They win medals all the time. But for us, it’s like a one-time opportunity. This is unreal.”

In overtime, Latvian captain Kaspar Daugavins carried the puck into the U.S. zone and put a backhanded pass off defenceman Lane Hutson’s skate. The puck came to Rubins and he wired it high for a goal that will never be forgotten.

The Latvian party in Tampere is on, and the party in Riga may never end.

“I’m lucky that I’m a hockey player in Latvia because the people there love hockey so much,” said Martins Dzierkals. “To be a hockey player at this time, I have no words.”

Buoyed by incredible fan support at Nokia Arena on Sunday, the Latvians wanted this historic bronze badly. They played with heart and desperation, taking two first-period leads and then tying it up with under six minutes left in regulation time.

The challenge for the Americans was to get up emotionally after failing to end their 90-year Ice Hockey World Championship gold medal drought. The tournament’s highest-scoring team played hard all night, but fell short. It’s a disappointing outcome after going unbeaten in their first eight games.

“Hockey’s a game of inches,” said U.S. assistant captain Alex Tuch. “Anyone can be beaten on any given day and Latvia got it today and they beat us.”

Both sides were coming off tough semi-final losses. The Latvians led Canada 2-1 through 40 minutes, but fell 4-2. The U.S. faced even greater heartbreak, leading Germany 3-2 with under two minutes left but losing 4-3 in sudden-death overtime.

The U.S.’s Rocco Grimaldi stepped up with two goals in the bronze battle. Grimaldi also scored twice when the U.S. beat Sweden 3-1 in the 2013 World Junior final, the 30-year-old forward’s last IIHF experience.

“You could see what this means to them,” Grimaldi said of Latvia. “I think they probably wanted it little more than we did. We said after the first period, we have to want it as much as they do because they’re playing like it was for a gold medal, not just a bronze. I don’t think we matched their intensity for the full 60.”

It was a fine goaltending showdown between Casey DeSmith and Arturs Silovs. The Latvian workhorse played in all 10 of his team’s games and carried his team to the medals day.

The U.S. outshot Latvia 29-25.

This result is Latvia’s best by a country mile. It’s the first time they’ve ever even played for an IIHF medal. Previously at the Ice Hockey World Championships, they peaked at seventh place in their 1997 debut (Finland), as well as in 2004 (Czechia) and 2009 (Switzerland).

From puck drop, the vibe was jacked up with 11,033 spectators going wild.

As the Latvian fans chanted thunderously and pounded drums, the Americans came out hard and physical. The diminutive Grimaldi nearly knocked Rodrigo Abols into the U.S. bench and Conor Garland laid a glancing hit on Rihards Bukarts that left the veteran forward clutching his face in pain.

On the first power play, Latvia opened the scoring at 7:49 with magic from the Bukarts brothers. Rihards, who’d finish with three assists, slipped the puck cross-crease from the goal line and Roberts roofed it past a helpless DeSmith.

Less than two minutes later, Grimaldi struck back with the equalizer. Flying in to take a pass from Scott Perunovich, he got Silovs moving laterally and then fired the puck from the right faceoff circle inside the far post.

At 16:08, Janis Jaks put Latvia up 2-1, following up on a flashy solo drive by Rihards Bukarts to poke a loose puck past DeSmith’s right skate.

Grimaldi tied it up again with a power play one-timer from the left side with 0:57 left in the first period. It tied him with 19-year-old Cutter Gauthier for the U.S. goals lead (seven).

The Latvians brought in the tournament’s best penalty kill (96.5 percent efficiency), and this was the first power play goal they’d conceded since falling 6-0 to Canada on Day One.

In the second period, Silovs held down the fort as shots favoured the U.S. 10-3. It remained loud and crazy, including an ovation for Latvian president Egils Levits, who was in attendance.

“Obviously it’s something special when the president flies in just to watch the game and we can show him this,” said Daugavins.

At 6:19 of the third period, after a faceoff in the Latvian zone and a Dylan Samberg point shot, Matt Coronato snared a loose puck at the side of the net and fired it home for a 3-2 U.S. lead.

The Latvians kept battling, and Kristians Rubins fooled DeSmith with a shot that slipped through Garland’s attempted shot-block at 14:21 to make it 3-3, sending the arena into a frenzy. Abols nearly ended it with an exciting rush off right wing in the dying moments of the third.

“We just had to push to score, you know,” said Dans Locmelis. “We were down but we still believed in each other and that’s the biggest part of our team.”

The Americans will resume their quest for their first Ice Hockey World Championship gold medal since 1933 at the 2024 tournament in Czechia (Prague and Ostrava).

For Latvia, 2023 will always be cherished as a year where they beat the odds on home ice and then in Finland, making their loyal supporters rapturously happy. Their hunger for more medals is sure to rise now too.

“I don’t think we’re going to be coming in aiming for the medals every year,” said Abols. “Small steps are our goal, but I hope this inspires the people who play hockey. And also, the people who have the 9-to-5 jobs who come out and cheer for us. Hopefully, it inspires them to be better every day.”

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