It was probably the most exciting hockey match for Latvia that I’ve ever seen. Here’s what happened yesterday:
I decided to watch the match for the sake of entertainment. Not that I am a huge ice-hockey fan. Or sports fan for that matter. So the match started and I had the anticipation that the Swedes would crush the Latvian team down, as usual (Sweden has never lost to Latvia in ice-hockey, as I understand).
Well, during the first period the game was pretty much one-sided. Sweden attacked and Latvia sat in the defend-zone. The flow of Swedish shots was so strong that the young star Omark (#23) just had to reach out with his stick and get the puck inside the Latvian net. Such was the end of the first period.
Now, the second period got more interesting, since Latvia was superior almost all 15 minutes of it, scoring two goals and getting their expectations as sky high as their confidence. Probably too high, though, as Sweden started off the third period with a sure puck in Masalskis’ goals. The game was of a back-and-forth kind with a long stop after Karsums slammed Enström and left him severely injured in the face.
The game was long from over, because the new rules dictate that no match should end with a tie (very curious). So Sweden and Latvia played five more minutes in order to establish the victor of the game. The five minutes were not enough, so the shoot-out was the logical continuation. The suspense was thick, but the Latvians with a veteran goalie Naumovs were thicker. Nizivijs was the one to send the victorious puck into Liv’s net.
The local press were very united in their opinions about the game. Dagens Nyheter said “it could not be worse” than a loss to Latvia, Svenska Dagbladet called the match a “cold shower”, Hockeyexpressen.se asserted that they are not going to overexaggerate the consequences of the sensation.
The Latvian press was, of course, happy to provide their readers with the good news of the first win over Sweden, posting photos in diena.lv and numerous articles hailing the Latvian team. Tvnet.lv called the win over Sweden a historical one.
Here’s the official summary of the game on iihf.com.