Canucks at Worlds: Silovs’ brilliance leads Latvia to semifinals with another upset, USA, Canada advance
Photo credit:Team Latvia
3 months ago
Heading into Thursday, all four of the Vancouver Canucks’ representatives at the IIHF World Championship advanced to the semifinals.
Ethan Bear got some love from the broadcast intermission panel after numerous solid plays in the neutral zone to turn the play the other way for Canada. Despite not registering a point through Canada’s seven preliminary-round games, Bear has been a rock defensively and has played a relatively unnoticeable game all tournament long. Canucks fans know all about his puck retrieval abilities and those have been on full display in this tournament as well.
Canada knocked off hosts Finland and advanced to the semifinals, where they will play the winner of Sweden and Latvia’s matchup — more on that later.
Conor Garland’s USA squad took care of business against Czechia, winning by a final score of 3-0 to advance to the semifinals. Germany pulled off the upset against top-seeded Switzerland, and will meet up with Team USA for the semifinals on Saturday.
Now, the big one. The upset.
Through two periods, Latvia and Sweden were tied at one apiece. Sweden poured on the pressure, as young Arturs Silovs had already made 25 saves after 40 minutes of play. Silovs has been the story of the tournament for Latvia, as the 22-year-old Canucks prospect goaltender has been the saving grace for his nation this year.
Latvia clinched a quarterfinal berth after knocking off top-seeded Switzerland, and they were going to need him to be just as good if they hoped to pull off a similar upset against Sweden. Silovs was sharp in the third, was seeing pucks through traffic well, and was as calm, cool, and collected as ever.
Latvia tallied eight shots in the first period, and just one in the second as they once again played a style conducive to simply not getting scored on.
The Latvian defence in front of Silovs once again played a tight game, covering the home plate area in front of the net covered and keeping shots and any puck movement from Sweden to the outside. The biggest challenge once again for Silovs was following the puck through a sea of bodies, but it was a challenge he was up for as Sweden continues to apply the pressure.
Latvia spent minimal time in the Swedish end, but made it count when they were there. Miks Indrasis scored the go-ahead goal for Latvia just a hair over five minutes into the third period, causing the tense Riga home crowd to come to life:
Janis Jaks scored an insurance marker for Latvia after the puck just trickled in behind Lars Johansson.
With nearly three minutes remaining, Sweden pulled their goaltender and got to work in the Latvian end. 3-1 final with the final shot tally reading 41-15 in favour of Sweden.
As you’d expect, Silovs made some beautiful saves to close this one out and lead his home country to the semifinal round to face off against a Canada team that beat them 6-0 in their first game of the tournament. Only this time, Arturs Silovs will be the starting goaltender for Latvia.
Against Sweden, Silovs made 40 of 41 saves, and for the first time in IIHF history — yes, that’s any IIHF event — Latvia will compete for a medal.
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