Calgary, AB - Russia led Latvia 1-0 through 20 minutes of Thursday's Group A Preliminary Round game at Scotiabank Saddledome, but the floodgates opened from there and the defending gold medalists steamrolled their way to a 14-0 victory.
Andrei Vasilevski stopped all 30 shots he faced between the pipes for Russia, and captain Yevgeni Kuznetsov tallied a whopping three goals and six assists to lead the top-ranked squad to the lopsided win. Nikita Gusev was no slouch on offence either, scoring twice and adding five assists.
Edmonton Oilers prospect and Latvia captain Kristians Pelss (drafted 181st overall in 2010) had a tough night leading his team into battle against the powerhouse opponent. He had a -3 rating and one shot on goal, in addition to leaving the game in the third period with an apparent lower-body injury. An update on Pelss was not provided following the game.
"It was not our best game today, but the boys battled and kept fighting," Latvia Head Coach Eriks Miluns said via translator. "It was two different teams out there with the skill on their side. The first period was how we need to play the whole game. We didn't show anything in the second and third periods. We hope we can recover after this and come out and play hard tomorrow night."
Russia now has a perfect 3-0 record with a 20-1 goals-for-and-against ratio, while Latvia has yet to taste victory and is 0-3, getting outscored by opponents 26-5. Pelss and company conclude the round-robin portion of the tournament on Friday at 8pm against fellow winless squad Switzerland.
-- Ryan Frankson, edmontonoilers.com
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