SOCHI – Welcome to the 2014 Olympic men’s hockey tournament, where weirdness is the gift that just keeps on giving.
Anyone who was concerned with Canada having too easy a path to the semifinal can take comfort in the fact that it was anything but easy. After all, they were playing Latvia.
Sit down if you’re reading this and didn’t watch the game, but it took a power play goal by Shea Weber at 13:06 of the third period to break a 1-1 tie in the third period – yeah, you’re reading that right – to send Canada to punch its ticket to the semifinal against USA. Patrick Sharp opened the scoring for Canada, but Lauris Darzinz tied the score with a pretty breakaway goal less than two minutes later.
How bizarre was it? Well, Canada couldn’t get a goal past a goalie who spent time this season in the ECHL. And when Kristers Gudlevskis, who didn’t even play in Latvia’s win over Switzerland in the qualifying game Tuesday night, wasn’t stopping the puck, guys like Kristaps Sotnieks were scooping it off the goal line and keeping it out of the net.
It was a remarkable showing by the Latvians, who joined the Slovenians on the sidelines. Neither team was expected to even get a point out of this tournament, but both gained an enormous amount of respect on the world stage.
THN’S THREE STARS
1. Kristers Gudlevskis
2. Shea Weber
3. Patrick Sharp