On paper, the Finnish team was the undisputed favourite. Any result other than a win in regular time would have been a sensational upset. The main intrigue whether Vyacheslav Nazarov’s could make a fight with the more skillful opponent.
With aggressive start of the match, the Latvians had a serious advantage of two players for nearly two minutes. Despite this, the Finnish squad calmly controlled the course of the game, changing on the fly and easily coping with the limited rushes from their opponent.
Having missed the early opportunity, Latvia soon paid for it. In quick attacks Julius Honka, Otto Rauhala, Artturi Lehkonen and Mattias Pulli did their job and chipped in a goal each in the frame.
Artturi Lehkonen, defended the colors of Suomi on World Juniors U-20 at the beginning of the year in Ufa, finished with three points – one goal and two assists. Kasperi Kapanen and Aleksi Mustonen, each added goals in the second and third period to finish off the Latvians and move to a 1W-0L record. Goaltender Juuse Saros finished the game with a 21-save shutout effort.
Latvia will face the Czech Republic on Friday, while Finland will have a big game against the host Russians on Saturday night.
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)