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Pavelec sees first action as Czechs defeat Latvia

by Staff / Winnipeg Jets

Author: Andrew Podnieks

The Czechs scored three goals with the extra man, one by Jagr. As well, Jan Kovar had a goal and two assists for the victors.

Life doesn’t get easier for the Latvians. Their record is now 0-2, and they will play Sweden on Monday. The Czechs also have tomorrow off before a much-anticipated showdown with Canada on Monday night.

Latvia came out and played a flawless period of sorts. It won the period, 1-0, but that score was something of a misnomer. The Czechs had the overwhelming margin of play and were by far the better team, but the Latvians played smart defence and did so without taking a penalty.

In fact, the only two power plays were the result of Czech fouls, and the first one proved costly. Jaromir Jagr took a tripping penalty behind hos own net, and the Latvians capitalized.

Captain Kaspars Daugavins took a pass up the middle, and his week backhand from the slot beat Alexander Salak at 13:13. It was a weak goal, to be sure, and at the other end Edgars Masalskis was calm and flawless in the net.

The Latvians weathered the incredible fan support for their opponents and left he ice with an impressive, albeit tenuous, one-goal lead.

A wild and thrilling middle period produced four goals, three to the Czechs. They tied the game at 2:01 when Michal Jordan took a quick wrist shot from the point that somehow flew past half a dozen bodies en route. Masalskis didn’t have a chance on it.

Just 77 seconds later, though, Latvia regained the lead. Mikelis Redlihs ripped a shot from the top of the circle that fooled Salak, a goal tat clearly frustrated coach Vladimir Ruzicka, who made a goalie change and brought in Ondrej Pavelec.

Another minute later the Czechs tied the game again when Jan Kovar’s quick shot beat Masalskis to the short side.

Midway through the period, that Latvian discipline suffered a setback when Kristaps Sotnieks took a major penalty (and game misconduct) for a spear to the groin of a Czech player. On the ensuing power play Jaromir Jagr got his second goal in as many games, giving the Czechs heir first lead, 3-2, at 12:44.

In the third, there was more trouble as the Latvians were down two men for 67 seconds. Jakub Voracek scored at 5:29 when he had the whole back side of the net to shoot at. The goal came just as one of the penalties expired.

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