Riga is rocking tonight. For the third straight year, Latvia cracked the Qualification Round with a 5-2 win over Italy on Wednesday. The Italians, meanwhile, now face a tough battle to avoid getting relegated again, as they were in 2008.
Defenceman Arvids Rekis got the winner for Latvia early in the third period, and Ottawa Senators prospect Kaspars Daugavins paced the attack with two goals.
Latvian starter Edgars Masalskis earned his first victory of the 2010 IIHF World Championship, outduelling Italy’s Adam Russo. Latvia outshot Italy 38-26.
“They played aggressive hockey, Canadian-style,” said Daugavins of the Italians. “It was hard to play. We were waiting for their mistakes. They play you one-on-one, so that means if you beat your man, you’re going to get a scoring chance. We crashed the net and got to the puck.”
In the Qualification Round, Latvia will aim to secure its fourth quarterfinal berth of all time. The previous ones came in 1997, 2004, and 2009, all of which led to seventh-place finishes.
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