Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Arturs Irbe made 42 saves to lead Latvia to a 2-0 upset victory against the United States Monday in the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships.
The shutout was Irbe’s third in World Championships play and first in 2001. Irbe recorded shutouts in the 1997 and 1998 World Championships.
Irbe’s Hurricanes and Latvian teammate Sandis Ozolinsh did not record a point in the game against the United States. Defenseman David Tanabe played for the United States, but, like his American counterparts, could not beat the Latvian net-minder.
The Latvian team fired just 19 shots at United States goaltender Robert Esche in the game. Esche, who recorded a 2-0 shutout for Phoenix against Carolina on Feb. 16, allowed Latvia’s fourth line centerman Aleksandrs Semjonovs open the scoring with 58 seconds remaining in the second period.
Latvian winger Aleksandrs Kercs netted the insurance goal against Esche 4:55 into the third period to close the scoring.
With the win, Latvia moves into a tie with the United States in the World Championships Group C standings with two points. Latvia will finish Preliminary round play Wednesday against Ukraine. The United States plays its final Preliminary round game against Sweden immediately following the Latvia – Ukraine match-up.
In Group B action, Sami Kapanen’s Team Finland defeated the Japanese squad 8-0. Kapanen did not play in the game due to a sore elbow that required several injections following his three-point performance against Austria. Finland wraps its Preliminary round run against Slovakia on Wednesday.
Carolina Hurricanes Website Reporter Kyle S. Hanlin thanks Television Play-by-Play Announcer John Forslund for the use of his “Irbe Says No” phrase. You can reach Hanlin at firstname.lastname@example.org.