Group B – Ondrej Nepla Arena, Bratislava

There was a classic at noon – Latvia against Russia. In a sold-out Ondrej Nepla Arena in Bratislava, the mood was superb. Many players of these teams know each other from the KHL and it was supposed to be a high-level hockey game.

IIHF World Championship Top Division 2019 Latvia vs Russia #70 Miks Indrasis, #8 Alexander Ovechkin Ondrej Nepela Arena, Bratislava © Robanser

The first few minutes clearly belonged to Russia, Kuznetsov, Khafizullin and Orlov forgave their chances. Only after five minutes the first opportunity for Latvia, Indrasis fails Vasilevski. Then it was Russia again that Latvia literally plays against the wall. Orlov with a double chance and Oveckhin fail Merzlikins. It was followed by a double exclusion and shortly afterwards Latvia had a power play. In 4-vs-3 it continues and the Latvians settled in the Russian zone. After a patient play-off, Cibulskis scored the 1-0 for Latvia (11.) with a sharp shot. The Russian team came a few minutes to a power play. But they forgive too many chances or were too playful. Kucherov only hits the bar, Ovechkin fails Merzlikins. Anyway, the Latvian goalie could fend off further good chances from Gusev, Kuznetsov or Kucherov. Just before the break, the Latvians manage a quick good counterattack. Darzins shoots, Vasilevski fends off and Kulda from close range with the extra margin that Vasilevski can also hold.

In the middle period only 27 seconds were played because Orlov scored the 1-1 equalizer. The Russians relented and forced the Latvians to make mistakes, which in turn led to a power play. The Russians used that and Gusev scored from close range for a 2-1 lead (24.). A few minutes later there was again power play for Russia, but this time it was without a goal. After a pass from Anisimov Kucherov comes to the puck and scored the 3-1 (33.). Shortly thereafter, Orlov has the puck and is disturbed by Batna. The Russian missed the Latvian with an elbow check in the face that he remained injured. The referees looked away and there was no penalty, a gross wrong decision. The injured Batna had to be taken to the cabin to be treated there. The furious coach of the Latvians, Hartley, complained but the official spend him a smile and did not let himself be influenced. The Latvian team showed despite this decision morale and fought on. Before the break, Jaks had bad luck with his shot, Vasilevski made the short corner in time to prevent another Latvian goal. The Russians brought an unnecessary hardship into the game. After a hard check from Zadorov at Rihards Bucharts, this bangs his head to the gang and stayed on the ice. There was power play for Latvia and half a minute before the break even a 5-vs-3 playful majority – Nestorov attacked goalie Merzlikins with a blow to the head. This was injured by ice and it came Gudlevskis. This power play was taken in the final period.

IIHF World Championship Top Division 2019 Latvia vs Russia #30 Elvis Merzlikins, #11 Yevgeni Malkin Ondrej Nepela Arena, Bratislava © Robanser

After the break Merzlikins came back to the Latvian goal. The Latvians played the power play very controlled, but they do not manage a goal. The Russians got a good chance by Kovalchuk, but Merzlikins was there. The Latvians were always very dangerous in the counterattack, Darzins and Bicevskis failed Vasilevski or were just prevented at the conclusion. It went now up and down with opportunities for both teams. So Zaitsev or Meija give very good opportunities to score goals. Coach Hartley Goalie took Merzlikins off the ice two minutes before the end. But it was not enough, Russia wins this game and sits on the Spitze Group B.

Photo Galerie LAT vs RUS

Team Latvia vs Team Russia 1-3 (1-0, 0-3, 0-0)

Group A – Steel Arena, Kosice

In the Steel Arena, Denmark and the USA are fighting for a place in the quarter-finals, only the winner may hope. The USA are to be favorited because of their team strength.

The first chances were Denmark in a power play, as DeBriancat had to cross-checks on the penalty bench. This survived the US boys and pulled up their game. Just after halftime of the period brings Vatrano the USA with 1-0 in the lead (11.). A few seconds later there was power play for the US and only 15 seconds later DeBriancat scored the 2-0 (12.). This goal gave the USA a playful boost and Keller increased to 3-0 (15.). In this key, it continued and just before the break Kreider meets for 4-0 (19.).

The Danes made a goalie exchange and after the break Galbraith came for Nielsen. The game he USA was now and that opened the Danes chances. After almost five minutes played in the middle period Olesen meets to 1-4 (25.). This gate left the Americans unimpressed and had an answer ready. DeBriancat meets for 5-1 (32.). The preliminary decision in this game fell 83 seconds later, Larkin scored the 6-1 (34.).

In the last third there were some penalties for both teams. The start was made by DeBriancat (Tripping) after 42 seconds, his second in this game. Then followed the Danes Storm (Interference) and Nicklas Jensen (Hooking). It continues with US Crack Larkin (Slashing) and Jesper Jensen had to rely on the penalty box for Tripping. The Americans used this power play by Eichel, who scored the 7-1 (52.). The Americans played this result over time. With this victory, the US is again in the top 4 and holds the chance for the quarter-finals.

Team Denmark vs Team USA 1-7 (0-4, 1-2, 0-1)