International Ice Hockey Federation

Switzerland plays spoiler

Switzerland plays spoiler

Latvia quarter-final hopes end with 3-2 loss

Published 20.05.2014 19:53 GMT+3 | Author John Sanful
Switzerland plays spoiler
MINSK, BELARUS - MAY 20: Latvia's Aleksandrs Nizivijs #17 and Switzerland's Denis Hollenstein #70 battle for the puck during preliminary round action at the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Yannick Weber's goal 27 seconds into the second period helps sink Latvia's bid to make the quarter-finals - Finland advances in their place.

After a difficult loss to Belarus last night, Latvia’s task against Switzerland was simple: Win in regulation or overtime and move into the quarter-finals. In the final game for both teams, Switzerland defeated a beleaguered Latvia 3-2. 

The loss eliminates Latvia from the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship and moves Finland in the fourth spot in Group B and into the quarter-finals against Canada.

For Switzerland, the win also avenges the qualification playoff game loss to Latvia at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. 

"We were playing for our team," said Mathias Seger. "We didn't really bring it on the ice here for the first couple of games but we've got a great group and we wanted to do it for ourselves. They beat us in the first play-off round in Sochi and for sure that was at the back of our minds."

Switzerland controlled the first period. Latvia was missing its usual spark, perhaps carryover from last night’s emotional loss to Belarus or due to fatigue after playing in as many days. Either way, Latvia was missing the chemistry they displayed earlier in the tournament.

"From the other side it's a tough game for Latvia." Seger said about Latvia's loss to Belarus and the subsequent after effects. "They had a hard game yesterday with a bad ending for them and maybe it's hard to get a good night's sleep and prepare after that. I'm sure it was hard for them."

However, Latvia's Aleksandrs Nizivijs saw it differently.

Continue reading

"I wouldn't say it was because we were tired after yesterday but of course it's really tough playing two games in one day, especially when it's two such decisive games that mean so much for you."

Switzerland successfully worked the puck deep and passed it very well. On defence they contained Latvia, limiting any offensive outbursts. In many ways this game was reminiscent of the style that the Swiss employed in winning a silver medal in 2013.

Switzerland grabbed an early lead when Damien Brunner scored. He found a seam and skated to the open space in front of the net in stride jamming home a pass from Luca Cunti. Denis Hollenstein got the second assist. 

Two minutes later, Domonik Schlumpf found the net. Andres Ambuhl carried the puck around the net and found Schlumpf by himself between the faceoff circles. He had enough time to shoot stick side for a 2-0 lead.

Brunner, Hollenstein and Andres Ambuhl were exceptional over the first twenty minutes of play and usually around the puck and near the net. They combined for six of Switzerland’s 12 shots in the period.

Simon Moser almost put one in with five minutes remaining. His shot hit the post and rebounded through starting goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis pads in the crease. Luca Cunti gained zone in the closing seconds and sent a pass to Hollenstein whose effort was knocked away by Gudlevskis blocker.

Latvia only had five shots in the period with its best coming from the stick of Jekabs Redlihs. His shot squeezed under Reto Berra’s pads as he held on until the whistle.

Yannick Weber widened the lead 27 seconds the second period but Koba Jass answered back quickly to get Latvia its first goal exactly 90 seconds later. This brought the Latvian fans in attendance to life and added some spark to the team.

In fact, Latvia turned it around by a lot in the second period but the score remained tied. Outshooting Switzerland 11-7, Latvia’s chances were significantly improved. 

Martins Cipulis grabbed a lead pass and raced in on a partial break before Roman Josi caught up to him. Still, Cipulis got off two shots. On another sequence, Juris Stals redirected a shot on goal but it whistled just wide.

Kaspars Daugavins drew a penalty that allowed Latvia to close the period on the power play. The first chance was the best when Berra snared a Latvian shot out of the air, on goal, with a marvelous glove save.

With time running down in the third, Latvia worked in vain to cut the lead but without success until it appeared Zemgus Girgensons tipped a shot out of the air and redirected it in goal and 2:23 remaining.

"We didn't worry about the ref [on the video review at the end." Said Nizivijs. "The guys just got ready for the next play. We knew there was still time left to play and we were sure that the goal would count.

Upon further review as anxious Latvian team and fan based waited, the call was a goal.

Latvia pulled its goaltender and tried to press the action in the Swiss end. The tying goal would elude them as the horn sounds and ended their valiant comeback in this game.

What a difference a few days make.

Zemgus Girensons, Kaspar Daugavins and others were filled excitement over the course of the Preliminary Round as their team displayed the ability to compete with the best in their group and win games. Now they go home empty. 


Back to Overview

Official Partners 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship