Getting a rare two-day break in Germany, the USA ice hockey team was more than ready to get back on the ice Saturday in front of a record-breaking crowd to take on Latvia.
Andrew Copp was the big winner in his first ever men’s world championship after breaking a 3-3 tie with an end-to-end rush having only 3:21 left on the third-period clock. This kicked the USA team into action to help win the game.
By taking the puck from his end all the up the ice and shrugging off two defenders, he was able to launch a wrister from the top of the circles. Latvian goalie Elvis Merzlikins was only able to get a small piece of it but not enough to stop it from kicking off the game-winner.
“It was a huge win given the early adversity,” Copp told IIHF.com. “They played really hard especially those first two periods. We needed to get our legs under us a little bit and get into intensity mode. It was important for us to handle that adversity and inch back in the second and battle throughout the third.”
Russia routed Slovakia 6-0, and the United States fought back from two goals down to beat Latvia 5-3 at the ice hockey world championship on Saturday.
Russia reclaimed the lead of Group A and outshot Slovakia by 39 to 22.
Yevgeni Dadonov got the tournament favorites off to a great start with just 1:12 played, then claimed his second goal on a power play. Andrei Mironov made it 3-0 at the first interval.
Nikita Kucherov and Ivan Telegin added goals in the second period, and Vladislav Gavrikov finished the scoring as Russia stayed two points above the U.S.
It started badly for the U.S. with Latvia’s Teodors Blugers opening the scoring midway through the first period and Kaspars Daugavins making it 2-0 at the start of the second, assisted by Andris Dzerins.
Anders Lee and Danny Dekeyser were penalized for tripping, and Dzerins for holding, as tempers frayed.
Lee came back to set up J.T. Compher’s goal for the U.S., but another moment of indiscipline from Clayton Keller gave the Latvians yet another power play chance, duly taken by Oskars Cibulskis on a rebound after Connor Hellebuyck blocked Miks Indrasis’ initial shot.
Nick Bjugstad pulled one back again, and Johnny Gaudreau equalized for the U.S. before the end of the second period with his fourth of the tournament.
Andrew Copp’s and Dylan Larkin’s goals then ensured the U.S. stretched its winning run to four games, following its surprise defeat to co-host Germany.
“It was a huge win given the early adversity,” Copp said. “We needed to get our legs under us a little bit and get into intensity mode.”
Belarus defeated Slovenia 5-2 for its first win of the tournament in Paris, where Markus Hannikainen scored the winner for Finland to beat Norway 3-2 in Group B.
Two-time champion Canada was leading the group before its game against Switzerland later Saturday.
Germany was also playing later against Italy in Group A.