For the eighth tournament in a row,
Canada’s National Men’s Team
is into the semifinals at the 2023 IIHF World Championship, facing upstart
Latvia on Saturday for a place in the gold medal game.
Canada earned a
4-1 win over co-host Finland
in its quarterfinal on Thursday. Jack Quinn, Sammy Blais, Michael Carcone
and Tyler Toffoli each found the back of the net, and Sam Montembeault made
27 saves in another terrific performance for the Canadian goaltender.
Latvia rode home-ice advantage in Riga,
defeating Sweden 3-1
to advance to its first-ever semifinal. Arturs Silovs backstopped Latvia,
turning aside 40 of 41 shots, and Rihards Bukarts tallied three assists,
while Miks Indrasis and Janis Jaks finished with a goal and a helper each.
Fifteen days ago, on the opening night of the preliminary round in Riga,
Canada earned a tournament-opening 6-0 win
over the co-hosts. MacKenzie Weegar finished with a goal and two assists,
Peyton Krebs had two helpers and Montembeault posted a 23-save shutout.
What to Watch
Since its back-to-back losses to Switzerland and Norway, Canada has turned
it around at both ends of the ice, outscoring its opponents 7-2 over the
last two games. The line of Lawson Crouse, Scott Laughton and Jack Quinn
have been especially dangerous since coming together for the first time
against Kazakhstan; the trio has recording 14 points over the last five
games (Crouse – 4-1—5; Laughton – 0-4—4; Quinn – 1-4—5). Overall, the
Canadians have spread out their offence, with 14 players having scored goals
There is no arguing that Silovs has been the tournament’s busiest
goaltender. The Abbotsford Canucks (AHL) netminder has played in all but
five minutes for Latvia, posting a 2.00 goals-against-average and .925 save
percentage while leading the tournament with 200 saves through eight games.
With the Latvians sitting in the middle of the pack with 24 goals, they’ve
relied on Silovs while winning close contests – other than a comfortable 7-0
win over Kazakhstan in the prelims, the quarterfinal win over the Swedes was
the first by more than one goal.
A Look Back
Canada and Latvia have met 14 times at the IIHF World Championship, with
Canada winning 12 and tying one.
Historically, Canada has dominated the matchup, outscoring the Latvians
77-16. Prior to the 6-0 win mentioned above, the last time the Canadians
scored six goals against the Latvians came in a
6-1 win to open the 2015 world championship
. Jason Spezza finished with two goals and an assist, Nathan MacKinnon had a
goal and two helpers and Mike Smith made 16 saves for the win in Prague.
All-time record: Canada leads 12-1-1
Canada goals: 77
Latvia goals: 16