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Canada beats Latvia, avoids relegation at the IIHF World U18 Championship

NHL.com @NHL

BOBRUISK, Belarus - Guy Carbonneau finally caught a glimpse of the Canadian team he envisioned coaching at the IIHF World U18 Championship.

Jordan Weal had two goals and an assist Wednesday as Canada avoided relegation with a 5-1 victory over Latvia.

The Canadian team found itself in the relegation round for the first time ever at this event after losing three of its first four games. The win over Latvia ensures Canada will stay in the A Pool because it can finish no lower than eighth overall.

The ninth-and 10th-place teams will be sent down.

The Canadian team was slow to come together at this event, but everything began to click against Latvia.

"For the first time really in the tournament, we started to play like the team we wanted to be at the start," said Carbonneau. "It's good for Hockey Canada. It would have been fun to go to Minsk and battle for a medal, but at least we're not going to the B Pool.

"We'll live to fight another day."

Michael Sgarbossa, Michael Bournival and John McFarland had the other goals for Canada while Calvin Pickard made 15 saves.

Edgars Siksna replied for Latvia.

The Canadians built a comfortable lead midway through the game before having to face a small amount of adversity. Carbonneau was thrilled with how his players responded.

"We were leading 3-0 and again, we took a really bad penalty and they scored," he said. "I thought in the third period we really didn't panic. We started to play our game.

"That's probably the best game we played the whole tournament."

The Canadian roster is comprised of 13 players from the OHL, seven from the WHL and two the QMJHL. Carbonneau thinks the players had trouble becoming a cohesive unit because they only had one exhibition game before the start of the event.

Canada wraps up the tournament with a game against Slovakia on Thursday.

"Our goal coming into this relegation was to win every period," said Carbonneau. "I know we have the team to dominate the two teams that we're playing. We just want to finish on a good note.

"If we win tomorrow, we'll finish with a .500 record, which is good. You always want to find positives and that's what we're trying to tell the kids."

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