In 2001 in Cologne, Latvia blanked the Americans 2-0, prompting boisterous fans to go down to the American Embassy in Rīga and lay flowers outside for the fallen American team. But there would be no eulogies today as Team USA rallied for a 3-1 victory on the strength of Mark Parrish’s game-winner in the third.
Skating with passion and intensity, Latvia played the USA close for most of the game. There were moments in the first two periods, with Artūrs Irbe stopping a ton of rubber, when it seemed as if the Latvians would surprise their opponents and come away with two points.
The Olympiahalle in Innsbruck was filled nearly to capacity–with a convincing majority of Latvian fans in attendance–as both teams traded scoring chances in the early going. There was plenty of cheering, singing, and banging of drums to give the scrappy Baltic nation an advantage.
Midway through the first period, it was clear the Latvians were gaining confidence and battling for possession of the puck. On the power play, the Latvians were impressive with tape-to-tape passes, including a few down low towards the net. The best chance would come when Viktors Ignatjevs walked in the left circle for a shot that was stopped by Ty Conklin.
“We were flat in the first period and there is no excuse for that,” said Doug Weight.
Jānis Sprukts scored the first goal of the game on the power play. Conklin was called for a delay of game penalty and the Latvians went to work. Ģirts Ankipāns sent a pass into the slot, where Sprukts fired it home at 16:17. It was Sprukts’ second goal in as many games. The young forward, who plays for HK Rīga 2000, was so excited about having scored to give his team the lead he could barely contain himself.
Team USA tried to come back with the equalizer but could not solve Irbe. Yan Stastny attempted to jam it in but Irbe lay on the ice with the puck securely beneath him.
Latvia would enjoy one more scoring opportunity when Kārlis Skrastiņš had a clear lane to the net and wired a shot on goal that was kicked out by Conklin, who ultimately made 16 saves in the game.
The Latvians carried their aggressive play into the second. Aleksandrs Ņiživijs deftly stickhandled towards the net, got Conklin down, and tried to stuff the puck in the short side. But referee Vladimir Šindler ruled that it did not cross the goal line. The Latvians were disappointed because they felt it was a goal, and because Sindler did not go upstairs for a video review.
“It was a disappointing decision, not so much that there was not a goal, but the referee did not go to the video replay for it because usually they always do that,” Sprukts said. “If there was no goal, it was okay, but they should have gone upstairs. It was a tough one for us.”
Team USA shook off the Latvian momentum and began taking some of it back. Several good chances on offense revived their spirits. Doug Weight scored at 13:36 on a backhand shot that was chipped into the net, tying the game at 1-1. Erik Cole collected his third assist of the tournament on the play.
In the third Mark Parrish scored at 7:44 to give his team their first lead of the game. After that, it was all Team USA. Whereas the Latvians controlled the first, the Americans dominated the third, outshooting their opponents 17-4.
Parrish added another goal–an empty netter–to seal the deal at 3-1. Weight finished with three points on the night. Irbe made 27 saves and was named Team Latvia’s player of the game.
Latvia now faces Slovenia on Thursday to decide who goes to the Qualifying Round, while Team USA meets Team Canada in the clash for the group’s top seed.
“It will be a tough game,” said Weight. “Any time you play Canada, it will be a North American-style hockey game. There will be a lot of hitting, a lot of in-your-face hockey.”
05:10 – 🇺🇸 PEN – Halpern, holding
05:47 – 🇱🇻 PEN – Skrastiņš, hooking
06:41 – 🇺🇸 PEN – Gionta, high sticking
14:55 – 🇺🇸 PEN – Conklin, delay of game
16:17 – 🇱🇻 PP GOAL – Sprukts (Ankipāns, Cipulis)
17:54 – 🇱🇻 PEN – Ņiživijs, slashing
22:38 – 🇱🇻 PEN – Širokovs, interference
24:04 – 🇺🇸 PEN – Hauer, tripping
28:52 – 🇺🇸 PEN – Halpern, cross checking
32:13 – 🇱🇻 PEN – Tribuncovs, holding
32:41 – 🇺🇸 PEN – Knuble, slashing
33:36 – 🇺🇸 GOAL – Weight (Cole)
46:31 – 🇱🇻 PEN – Ignatjevs, cross checking
47:44 – 🇺🇸 PP GOAL – Parrish (Weight, Hauer)
59:58 – 🇺🇸 EN GOAL – Parrish (Miller, Weight)
W: 🇺🇸 Conklin (15-16)
L: 🇱🇻 Irbe (27-29)
SHOTS ON GOAL
🇺🇸 4+9+17 = 30
🇱🇻 7+6+4 = 17
🇺🇸 Goaltenders: Ty Conklin, Rick DiPietro. Defence: Hal Gill, Brett Hauer, Jordan Leopold, John-Michael Liles, Paul Martin, Aaron Miller, Andy Roach. Forwards: Erik Cole, Brian Gionta, Adam Hall, Jeff Halpern, Mike Knuble, David Legwand, Mike Modano, Richard Park, Mark Parrish, Yan Stastny, Doug Weight, Mike York.
🇱🇻 Goaltenders: Artūrs Irbe, Edgars Masaļskis. Defence: Guntis Galviņš, Viktors Ignatjevs, Rodrigo Laviņš, Agris Saviels, Kārlis Skrastiņš, Oļegs Sorokins, Atvars Tribuncovs. Forwards: Ģirts Ankipāns, Aigars Cipruss, Mārtiņš Cipulis, Aleksandrs Macijevskis, Aleksandrs Ņiživijs, Grigorijs Panteļejevs, Miķelis Rēdlihs, Aleksandrs Semjonovs, Jānis Sprukts, Aleksejs Širokovs, Leonīds Tambijevs, Herberts Vasiļjevs, Māris Ziediņš.
|🇺🇸 UNITED STATES (C)||vs.||LATVIA 🇱🇻|
(since 22 Apr 2005)
||13 Apr 2003|
|First IHLC Meeting (USA vs. LAT)
|Previous IHLC Meeting (USA vs. LAT)
|Last IHLC Game
🇺🇸 USA 7-0 SLO 🇸🇮 – 01 May 2005 – WC – Innsbruck 🇦🇹
|Next IHLC Game
🇨🇦 CAN 3-1 USA 🇺🇸 – 05 May 2005 – WC – Innsbruck 🇦🇹