Ice Hockey World Championship: Semi-Finals Preview
The results of the quarterfinals boil down to the fact that even if Canada becomes the champion, the medal history of the world championships will be largely rewritten.
Canada – Latvia
Kick-off: 14.20, Tampere
Latvia has already become the champion of hearts and produced the best World Cup in its history. This team has never made it to the semi-finals before, and now it will get two chances to take medals.
Alas, the rules of the tournament are such that after the quarter-finals, the Latvians lose their main trump card. The rest of the World Cup will be held in Tampere, which means that Latvia is left without the incredible support of the fans in Riga. With all due respect to the path of the Baltic team in this tournament, it would not have won six victories in a row without the energy of the stands. With it, it is easier to compensate for the difference in class, throw yourself under pucks, beat off a lot of shots and realize a few chances, when, like an unknown force, it creates the right biomechanics and makes your hands see an extension of yourself in the stick and send the puck into the wrong net.
Latvia has remained without the main trump card, but not absolutely without trump cards. In the end, at the 2021 World Cup, the Crimson won their first ever victory over Canada (2-0), playing in Riga, but without fans in the stands due to coronavirus restrictions. But Miks Indrašis, Oskars Batnea, Ronalds Kenins and Ralfs Freibergs remained in the squad – these are the players who collected all the goals and all the assists from the legendary match for Latvia two years ago. The Latvians are, in principle, the most experienced team of the tournament in terms of the number of games played at the World Cup.
At the 2018 World Cup, Latvia lost to Canada only in overtime, and in the quarterfinals of the 2014 Olympics, when all the strongest were gathered, the Maple only scored the decisive goal against the Baltics only in the 14th minute of the third period. The Latvians have a very good goalkeeping school, which can create huge problems for even the most stellar team in Canada.
Maple, as they usually do, find themselves in the course of the tournament and go through the process of obtaining the necessary “chemistry”. Because Canadians usually don’t talk about teamwork – for every new World Cup, consider that a new team comes. The “true northerner” is clearly aware that it will not be as easy with Latvia as on the first day of the tournament, when the Baltics lost 0:6.
Actually, the team of Harijs Vitolins made the right conclusions from that match. Perhaps even one, but a key conclusion – Ivars Punnenovs, who conceded two goals from three shots, gave way to Arturs Shilovs of the Vancouver Canucks, and he is currently one of the best goltenders of the tournament. However, it will not be easy for Shilovs to give the same fantastic match as against Sweden in the quarterfinals.
Getty Images/Global Images Ukraine. Artūrs Šilovs and Ralfs Freibergs celebrate another World Cup victory
Notably, Canada played their best match of the tournament so far when they were considered underdogs. It was the quarter-final against Finland. “Maple” played quite in the style of one of the main outsiders of the NHL in recent years, “Arizona”, and this is logical. After all, the Coyotes in this Canadian team are represented by head coach Andre Turigny and three forwards – Lawson Crouse, Jack McBain and Michael Carcone.
The ancestors came to the World Cup with a non-star line-up. And this is even their trump card, because such a team is not inclined to suffer from arrogance and think a lot about themselves. There are players with names (Toffoli, Lucic, Myers), but they have been on the decline for a long time (not counting Toffoli) and they have something to prove. The reliability of this Canada, multiplied by the aforementioned knocked-out trump cards from the hands of Latvia, should be enough for not bright, but victory in the semi-final.
USA – Germany
Start: 18.20, Tampere
Team USA has lost 11 World Cup semi-finals in a row. For 63 years, the Ice Yankees did not become the best on the planet and did not take medals worth more than bronze. The story of the Americans at the World Championships becomes even more terrible if we remove those tournaments that were combined with the Olympics. Because with this calculation, the US team took its only gold at the World Cup back in 1933.
Germany did not have a world championship medal for 70 years, and the Germans only made it to the finals – attention – in 1930. But the story can be turned in another way. The German national team made it to the semi-finals for the second time in three years, and in 2018 became the silver medalist of the Olympics, which, as we recall, did not include players from the NHL.
Representatives of the strongest league in the world at this tournament make the weather for the Germans. Yes, it would be interesting to see them with aces of the level of Leon Draisaitl or at least Tim Stützle. But JJ Peterka and Niko Sturm both ruled the group stage and scored decisive goals in the quarterfinals against Switzerland. And it was Moritz Seider from Detroit that hurt the team more on Thursday and almost drowned the Germans with his 5-minute suspension. And he can play much better and more useful.
Getty Images/Global Images Ukraine
Both teams are on open winning streaks. The US team has won all eight matches, Germany has five wins in a row. The Germans started their streak just after a dramatic defeat from the Americans in the group stage – 2:3, although after two periods the Europeans were ahead.
Team USA will have to prepare for a very difficult match. But they already know the strength of the opponent, and the class and depth of the Ice Yankees, in which nine players scored at least five points in the tournament (the Germans have six), and five scored at least three goals (the Germans have two) should affect .
In personal meetings, of course, the Americans have a noticeable advantage. Germany won back-to-back 2016 and 2017 World Cups but so pissed off the Stars and Stripes that they responded with five victories, including in the 2021 bronze medal match.
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