Latvia defeats Czechia for first preliminary-round win at the World Juniors

Latvia entered their final group stage match of the 2022 World Junior Championship with an all-time record 0:27 in the preliminary round. Loss #28 will have to wait until December.

The country secured its first preliminary round win on Sunday, a 5-2 win over the Czech Republic in Edmonton.

Captain Ralfs Bergmanis scored a hat-trick and goalkeeper Bruno Bruveris saved 33 shots to give Latvia a historic victory. Rainers Rullers and Martins Lavins also hit the net.

Latvia not only secured their ticket to the quarter-finals for the first time, but were also seeded as No. 3 in Group A.

Latvia finishes the preliminary round with one regular win, one overtime loss and two regular losses for four points. The Czech Republic also finished the group game with four points, but lost the direct tie-break against Latvia.

The win alone is impressive, but it’s an even bigger achievement considering Latvia wasn’t supposed to be at the tournament. It has taken Russia’s place after the IIHF banned Russia from international competitions following the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

MORE: Schedule, Scores, Results for all World Juniors 2022 games

Belarus would have replaced Russia because they finished the Division IA tournament in first place, but they too were banned by the IIHF for Ukraine. That opened the point for Latvia.

When was the last time Latvia won the World Juniors?

While Latvia failed to record a win in the preliminary round before the game against the Czech Republic, the country has won at the World Juniors in the past.

Latvia have previously won in the relegation round at previous World Juniors competitions. The last win came in 2012 when Latvia beat Denmark 2-1 in extra time through Nikita Jevpalovs.

Latvia won two games in the relegation round at the 2009 tournament. The country also defeated Norway in the relegation round of the 2006 World Juniors.

Who will Latvia play in the quarterfinals?

While teams #3 through 5 in Group A are settled, the rest of the field has yet to solidify.

Latvia won’t have to wait long to see who they will face in the quarterfinals. As No. 3 in Group A, it will compete against No. 2 in Group B. It will probably be Sweden or the USA, who will play against each other on Sunday evening. The winner of this duel will sit in the driver’s seat and secure first place in the group, while the loser will have to settle for second place.

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