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Latvia
Switzerland

22 SOG
33 SOG
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LAT
SUI
game recap

Masalskis, Darzins help Latvia stun Switzerland

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:52 AM

Shawn P. Roarke - NHL.com Senior Managing Editor

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Masalskis, Darzins help Latvia stun Switzerland
Latvia 3, Switzerland 1
SOCHI -- The message of Ted Nolan since he took over the Latvian team has been two-fold. First, he stressed that the Latvians were good players capable of doing great things. Also, he stressed that anything can happen in a short tournament.

Tuesday, his players proved him a prophet on both counts at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Latvia, the No. 11 seed in the qualification playoffs without a win in three preliminary games, knocked off Switzerland, 3-1, Tuesday night at Bolshoy Ice Dome. Switzerland, the No. 6 seed in the qualification playoffs, is also the holder of the silver medal from the 2013 World Championships.

"It's great," said Kaspars Daugavins, the Latvian forward. "It's something amazing. Not many people believed we could do it. And we proved a lot of people wrong."

Now, the Latvians face Canada, the Group B champion, in the 9 p.m. game (noon ET, MSNBC, CBC) at Bolshoy Ice Dome on Wednesday.

Tuesday night, the pedigrees of the two teams did not matter. Neither did the fact that Switzerland had won the first meeting, in the preliminary round on Wednesday, with a goal with eight seconds remaining.

All that mattered was that the Latvians were on board with their coach, ready to prove that a first trip for the country to the quarterfinals was not only a possibility, but a done deal.

"To get a win at the Olympics is something we would all like to have," Nolan said. "To go a little bit further is what we are here for. That is what the Olympics are all about. Miracles can happen."

The Latvians were not shy about calling what transpired Tuesday night as the greatest hockey thing to happen to their country.

"Those chances to get in the quarterfinals don't come along very often, so we have been waiting for this chance for four years," said forward Lauris Darzins, who scored Latvia's second and empty-net goals.

Oskars Bartulis scored the opening goal, a slapper through traffic, that beat Jonas Hiller (19 saves) to the far post to set the tone for Latvia, which took a 2-0 lead into intermission and then held on after Martin Pluss cut the deficit in half with 24:59 remaining.

Switzerland, despite several Grade A opportunities, could not get the tying goal.

"It's a huge disappointment for Swiss hockey," alternate captain Mark Streit said. "We didn't achieve what we wanted to. It's not a setback; it's just tough to explain."

Latvia played a typical Latvian game, using an opportunistic defense, a physical checking game and the stout goaltending of Edgars Masalskis (32 saves) to stymie the Swiss.

"We played as a team, we stuck together, even when the times got tough in the game," said team captain Sandis Ozolinsh. "Now, I am really proud of this group of guys. Each one of them is responsible for this win as much as the other guys."

Ozolinsh, a defenseman, played a team-high 21:52 to lead the way. He has been around the Latvian national team since 1998, playing with the Soviet Union team before that. This victory means the world to him.

"Sandis, he loves the game," Nolan said. "He competes all the time. We wouldn't be here if it wasn't for him. The last qualifier when he decided to come back to the national team, he led us in that tournament and he's leading us here today. I don't know if I'm coaching the team or he's coaching the team, but he's doing a great job."

Ozolinsh is front and center for the Latvians, owning a resume that features both international success and NHL success.

But, the goalie, Masalskis, also is revered by many in the Latvian room.

He played a huge game Tuesday, making several highlight-reel saves. None was better than a lightning-fast glove-hand save of a one-timer from Andres Ambuhl ticketed for the top corner. Somehow, Masalskis got his glove in the path of the puck before falling forward. He remained face-down on the ice for several seconds in a combination of exhaustion and satisfaction.

He also stopped Reto Suri on a semi-breakaway just before Darzins scored his empty-netter.

"Our goalie just stood on his head to give us the win," said Zemgus Girgensons, the young Latvian forward who plays for Nolan in Buffalo.

The reward for the biggest win in the country's hockey history is playing the defending Olympic gold-medal champion. But, after Tuesday night, the Latvians know that anything is possible.

They believe, like their coach taught them to believe. They are ready.

"It's going to be really tough for us, but we'll try to give them a hard time," Daugavins said. "You never know, miracles happened before – as long as we earn the miracle. We just have to go out there and work hard and have fun, just as we did today. Our goalie might stop every shot, he's good. You never know."

GAME SUMMARY

SCORING
LAT 2 0 1 - 3
SUI 0 1 0 - 1

First Period
1. LAT, Bartulis (Daugavins, Girgensons) 8:38
2. LAT, Darzins - PPG (Redlihs) 11:19
Penalties - Jass LAT (interference) 3:02, SUI Trachsler (tripping) 10:21

Second Period
3. SUI, Pluss (Suri) 15:01
Penalties - Wick SUI (tripping) 16:11

Third Period
4. LAT, Darzins - EN (Pavlovs) 19:00
Penalties - none

SHOTS ON GOAL
LAT  9 8 5 - 22
SUI  11 10 12 - 33

Goaltenders (saves-shots against) - LAT: Masalskis (W, 32-33); SUI: Hiller (L, 19-21).

Power plays (goals-chances) - LAT: 1-2; SUI: 0-1

Latvia
# Forwards Club HT WT DOB Birthplace
21 A. Berzins 6'3" 214 12/27/1983 Riga, LAT
47 M. Cipulis 5'11" 187 11/29/1980 Cesis, LAT
10 L. Darzins 6'3" 201 1/28/1985 Riga, LAT
16 K. Daugavins 6'1" 205 5/18/1988 Riga, LAT
28 Z. Girgensons BUF 6'1" 190 1/5/1994 Riga, LAT
70 M. Indrasis 6'3" 187 9/30/1990 Riga, LAT
51 K. Jass 6'0" 192 5/4/1990 Riga, LAT
15 M. Karsums 5'10" 194 2/26/1986 Riga, LAT
91 R. Kenins 6'0" 201 2/28/1991 Riga, LAT
79 V. Pavlovs 6'5" 216 6/17/1989 Riga, LAT
24 M. Redlihs 5'11" 179 7/1/1984 Riga, LAT
5 J. Sprukts 6'3" 225 1/31/1982 Riga, LAT
3 J. Stals 6'3" 207 4/8/1982 Riga, LAT
12 H. Vasiljevs 5'11" 185 5/23/1976 Riga, LAT
# Defense Club HT WT DOB Birthplace
37 O. Bartulis 6'3" 203 1/21/1987 Ogre, LAT
29 R. Freibergs 5'11" 192 5/17/1991 Riga, LAT
32 A. Kulda 6'2" 216 7/25/1988 Leipzig, GER
8 S. Ozolinsh 6'3" 214 8/3/1972 Sigulda, LAT
81 G. Pujacs 6'0" 216 6/11/1981 Riga, LAT
9 K. Redlihs 6'2" 205 1/15/1981 Riga, LAT
6 A. Rekis 5'11" 198 1/1/1979 Jurmala, LAT
11 K. Sotnieks 6'0" 192 1/29/1987 Riga, LAT
# Goalies Club HT WT DOB Birthplace
50 K. Gudlevskis 6'4" 190 7/31/1992 Aizkraukle, LAT
31 E. Masalskis 5'10" 187 3/31/1980 Riga, LAT
1 E. Mustukovs 6'0" 187 4/7/1984 Riga, LAT
Switzerland
# Forwards Club HT WT DOB Birthplace
10 A. Ambühl 5'9" 192 9/14/1983 Davos, SUI
48 M. Bieber 5'11" 187 3/14/1986 Zürich, SUI
23 S. Bodenmann 5'10" 187 3/2/1988 Urnäsch, SUI
96 D. Brunner NJD 5'10" 185 3/9/1986 Zürich, SUI
12 L. Cunti 6'0" 187 7/4/1989 Zürich, SUI
51 R. Gardner 6'6" 227 4/18/1978 Toronto, ON
70 D. Hollenstein 6'0" 194 10/15/1989 Mosnang, SUI
82 S. Moser NSH 6'2" 214 3/10/1989 Bern, SUI
22 N. Niederreiter MIN 6'2" 209 9/8/1992 Chur, SUI
28 M. Plüss 5'9" 187 4/5/1977 Bülach, SUI
88 K. Romy 6'0" 194 1/31/1985 La Chax-de-Fonds, SUI
24 R. Suri 6'0" 185 3/25/1989 Zürich, SUI
43 M. Trachsler 6'0" 198 7/15/1984 Zürich, SUI
14 R. Wick 6'2" 207 12/30/1985 Zuzwil, SUI
# Defense Club HT WT DOB Birthplace
5 S. Blindenbacher 5'11" 194 3/15/1983 Bülach, SUI
16 R. Diaz VAN 5'11" 197 1/9/1986 Baar, SUI
90 R. Josi NSH 6'1" 192 6/1/1990 Bern, SUI
31 M. Seger 5'11" 190 12/17/1977 Ermatingen, SUI
7 M. Streit PHI 5'11" 191 12/11/1977 Bern, SUI
3 J. Vauclair 6'0" 203 10/2/1979 Bure, SUI
72 P. von Gunten 5'11" 183 2/10/1985 Sigriswil, SUI
6 Y. Weber VAN 5'11" 200 9/23/1988 Morges, SUI
# Goalies Club HT WT DOB Birthplace
R. Berra CGY 6'4" 194 1/3/1987 Bülach, SUI
J. Hiller ANA 6'2" 192 2/12/1982 Felben Wellhausen, SUI
T. Stephan 6'3" 187 1/21/1984 Zürich, SUI