Latvian U20 suffers a painful loss to Russia U18
This evening Latvian U20 national team played already the second game of the sixth Sergei Zholtok Memorial Cup held in Riga. After winning the Belarusian U20 team 3:1 yesterday, Latvians suffered a loss to Russian U18 team 3:5, with four goals scored by Maxim Shalunov.
The game set off in a relatively high tempo, with both teams crushing the net, however, in the sixth minute of the game Maxim Shalunov scored already on the first powerplay of the night. Minutes later Latvians took the initiave of the game and tied the score, when Girts Jansons put the puck in after a rebound from Denis Perevozhchikov’s pads, scoring already his second goal of the tournament. Already late in the period Shalunov scored just another goal.
The second period began with two powerplays for the Latvian team, and in the latter of them Latvians crushed the net with many shots, however Perevozhchikov kept the puck out of it. In the middle of the period Shalunov and the only 1994-born player of the tournament Mikhail Grigorenko were put in the same powerplay unit and almost immediately Grigorenko increased Russian lead to 3:1. After a horrible mistake by defender Raimonds Tubelis, Shalunov was left alone in the front of the net and faced no problems beating Janis Kalnins. However, with a couple of minutes left in the period, Edgars Abolins scored a one-timer goal to make it 4:2.
In the third period Russian team had paced down, which allowed Latvians to attack most of the time and led the Russian defenceman to earn several successive penalties. Latvians were down by two goals and the game could have been turned around, if it was not for the admirable performance of Perevozhchikov. When there were only three minutes left in the regulation, Raimonds Tubelis once again forgot about Shalunov, who scored already his fourth goal of the night. With one minute left in a game, during a delayed call, Reinis Demiters managed to shoot a heavy shot, which found its way to the back of the net, but that was the end of it. Russians celebrated a 5:3 victory.
Generally, Latvian first line (Upitis – Bicevskis – Biezais) proved themselves to be capable of surrounding the opposing net and they had many great chances throughout the game. Another notable players was the second line center Ronalds Kenins. As of defenders, Martins Porejs left the greatest impression for me. With around five-six more additions to the team, I feel optimistic about the Latvian opportunity to win their U20 World Championship Division 1 group and once again play in Elite Division in 2012.
Latvian team roster:
Eriks Sevcenko – Martins Jakovlevs; Juris Upitis – Maris Bicevskis – Elvijs Biezais
Reinis Demiters – Martins Porejs; Miks Lipsbergs – Ronalds Kenins – Vladislavs Dobrenkijs
Romans Sevcenko – Toms Taurins; Arturs Mickevics – Edgars Abolins – Maris Dilevka
Raimonds Tubelis – Ronalds Gritans; Egils Kalns – Bruno Zabis – Girts Jansons