While the NHL begins their playoffs, the IIHF is holding their annual men’s World Hockey Championships. After a cancellation in 2020, the teams were ready to come back to the tournament and vye for a gold medal. The tournament began on May 21st in Riga, Latvia with a full day of action. Let’s get started with Riga Recap: Day 1.
Group A action opened with a game between Russia and the Czech Republic. Both teams have their fair share of NHLers on the rosters as well as talent from professional leagues around the world. The back and forth game ended in a last minute, 4-3 win for the Russians. Anton Burdasov, Artyom Shvets-Rogovoi, Alexander Barabanov and Mikhail Grigorenko contributed goals for the Russians while Jakub Flek, Jakub Vrana, Dominik Kubalik scored for the Czech Republic.
Group B’s opening game was a European matchup with Italy and Germany going head to head. Germany took this one by a score of 9-4. Germany’s goals spread among eight different scorers, Marcel Noebels being the lone player with a multi-goal game.
Belarus and Slovakia suited up for the second Group A game of the day. Even with glimers of offense, Slovakia’s early lead was too much for Belarus to overcome. Slovakia came out on top, outscoring Belarus 5-2.
The final game of the day was in Group B. It was the host Latvia’s tournament opener against the Canadians. Latvia, a team with no active NHLers, did not disappoint with all eyes on them. The Latvians scored in the first period to take a 1-0 lead. Team Canada hoped to make a comeback but the Latvians scored again in the second period to extend their lead. This is the first time in the history of the tournament that Latvia has beat Canada. Unfortunately, Canada could not find their game and they fell to Latvia 2-0. This is certainly not the way that Team Canada expected to start their tournament and if they want to compete for a medal, they need to turn it around and bring a new energy to game two.
Day 2 in Riga has six games on the schedule. In Group A, Denmark will play Sweden, Great Britain and Russia will faceoff and the final game will be between the Czech Republic and Switzerland. In Group B action, Norway and Germany will open the day followed by a game between Finland and the USA. The host, Latvia, will finish the day off against Khazakstan.
Be sure to come back to Unbenched following each day of the IIHF Men’s World Championship to read the Riga Recaps and get all the details about the action in Latvia.