Photo from EPA

With both teams coming in with weak rosters, there was no clear favorite coming into the contest on Thursday. Latvia, who was coming off of a 5-4 thriller against Kazakhstan, were looking to battle for a second place spot in Group B, a huge advancement considering people were writing them off as the “Latvian B-Team” coming into the tournament. For the Americans, a huge loss to the Russians in their final game seemed to deplete the squad heading into an important game against the Latvians, a game in which they would dropping by a score of 6-5.

The Americans fell victim to the first goal against. After Tim Thomas touched the puck on a delayed penalty call on the Americans, Gints Meija makes it 1-0 for Latvia after tucking it past the Dallas Stars puckstopper. USA was upset with the call, as, per hockey rules anywhere, if a player on the pre-penalized team touches the puck on a delayed call, the play should be whistled dead. The Americans wouldn’t sit angry for long, as Craig Smith, a star with the national team at the World’s back in 2013, tied it up with a wrist shot past Kristers Gudlevskis to tie it up. Shortly after that, Latvia would tie the game up once again after a poor rebound by Thomas allowed Mikelis Redlihs to shoot the puck into open net. 

The second period wouldn’t start so favourably for the Americans, but eventually they would make up for it. First, Latvia would go up 3-1 on a power-play goal from Aleksandrs Nizivijs, who just walked in from the half wall and wired it in. Nizivijs, who is currently playing in his 83rd WC game during his long career is currently playing in his 15th tournament for the 37 year old known more for his grinding skills then his scoring ability.

The Americans would get back into the train wreck following the two goal deficit. The first American goal scorer in the tournament against Belarus, Brock Nelson, would return to the score sheet after a nifty play to score on a backhand for a power-play goal. Shortly after, 2014 Calder Trophy nominee Tyler Johnson would get his team-leading fifth point after taking advantage of a Craig Smith crossbar rebound to tie it up.

The third period was a crazy one. With eight minutes remaining in the contest, Kaspars Daugavins went end to end before beating Thomas from the deep slot. Herberts Vasilijevs’ first of the competition would prove to be the game winning goal 6-4 with just over a minute to go, and even a late goal by Nelson couldn’t get in the way as the Latvian national team took down the Americans by a score of 6-5.

Follow me on twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.

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