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Canada survives major hockey scare, reaches semis

Feb 19, 2014, 2:31 PM EDT

CanadaLatviaAP AP

It was one of the most one-sided games you’ll ever see.

And it was also one of the closest.

In a contest that viewers almost had a hard time believing, Canada avoided one of the biggest upsets in Olympic history with a 2-1 win over Latvia at the Bolshoy Ice Dome on Wednesday. Victory did not come easy for the Canadians despite carrying the play for extended stretches while out-shooting the Latvians by a staggering 57-16 margin — and that was all thanks to one man, goalie Kristers Gudlevskis.

Gudlevskis, the 21-year-old Tampa Bay Lightning farmhand, turned in an absolutely phenomenal performance for the overmatched Latvians, setting a tournament high for saves in a game with 55.

The only Canadians to beat him on the day were Patrick Sharp and Shea Weber — who notched the game-winner with less than seven minutes remaining. Lauris Darzins replied for the Latvians, converting a long stretch pass from Sandis Ozolinsh for a breakaway goal.

The story of the game, though, starts and ends with Gudlevskis. It was an effort that pushed him to the point of exhaustion as, immediately prior to the Weber goal, the Latvian trainer was called onto the ice to tend to Gudlevskis, who looked to be either exhausted or injured, or a combination of both.

As for Canada, the team will undoubtedly be disappointed with its lack of finish, but hard pressed to complain about generating chances and keeping puck possession. Canada fired 16 shots on goal in the first period, 19 in the second, 22 in the third and has now out-shot its opponents 168-73 over five tournament games.

Latvia also had some puck luck go its way in the third period, when a diving save by Kristaps Sotnieks kept a would-be Canadian goal out of the net. Just one problem — Sotnieks was a skater, not a goalie, and putting his hand on the puck in the crease should’ve resulted in a penalty shot. The referees missed the call, though, and play continued after a brief video replay.

They’ll now play the United States in the semifinals on Friday.

  1. wingsdjy - Feb 19, 2014 at 2:45 PM

    With regards to Sotnieks touching the puck in the crease, what’s the actual Olympic rule? I’ve seen some articles state that it’s only a penalty shot if his hand completely covers the puck (which I’m not sure he actually did). To me, it looked like he pushed it under the goalie.

  2. mornelithe - Feb 19, 2014 at 3:00 PM

    “Just one problem — Sotnieks was a skater, not a goalie, and putting his puck on the hand in the crease should’ve resulted in a penalty shot. The referees missed the call, though, and play continued after a brief video replay.”

    The Canadian’s had also already benefited from a rather poor slashing call, which resulted in a PPG. So, let’s not act like all the luck was on Latvia’s side.

  3. granadafan - Feb 19, 2014 at 4:18 PM

    The US and Canada should have met in the finals.

  4. mikeymo74 - Feb 19, 2014 at 5:22 PM

    Latvia almost proved once again that a hot goaltender is all it takes to win in this tournament. The USA will be confident, but Canada is fully capable of bouncing back and winning. Should be another classic.

  5. wishingtonredslur - Feb 20, 2014 at 10:32 AM

    He didn’t keep it out, reply shows it crossed the line.

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