USA trounces Latvia 7-1
Keeps pace in tight Group A race
The United States took to the ice Sunday afternoon needing a second win in a row to keep pace with the Czechs and Finns and stay within striking distance of Group A leaders Russia. Latvia, on the other hand, went into the game having lost its first two matchups and likely headed for trip to the relegation stage barring a big upset.
As expected the Americans came out of the gate putting a lot of offensive pressure on the Latvians. At 17:06, U.S. defenceman Keaton Thompson faked a shot and passed to forward Kevin Labanc, who fired a shot through goaltender Kristaps Nazarovs for the 1-0 score.
Four minutes later the Americans went up 2-0 when Gage Ausmus fed a pass to Tyler Kelleher going into the Latvian zone. Kelleher strode to the middle of the left faceoff circle, put on the brakes and cut across themiddle of the ice and firing a shot that sailed straight into the roof of the net.
Kelleher was credited with his second goal of the game when a loose puck in front of the net during a scrum was pushed in by a diving Latvian player. The US lead later stretched to 4-0 at the very end of the period with a slapshot by Evan Allen that was reviewed and judged to have gone in a second before the whistle blew for the end of the period.
Latvia broke the goose egg in the second period thanks to a good effort from Rihards Bukarts who caught the USA defence flat footed with a pass that sent Georgs Golovkovs on a breakaway goal. But the Latvian offence fell silent after that, and following markers from Hudson Fasching Tyler Motte, and Tommy Vannelli in the third period, the horn sounded on a 7-1 USA victory.
The four-time defending U18 champions United States (2W-1L) will have a day off before resuming action Tuesday afternoon against Finland. Latvia (0W-3L) looks to be heading to the relegation round, with a game against Group A leader Russia to finish off their preliminary round.