Nervy Canada make semis after Latvia fright
By Steve Keating
SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Canada escaped with a nervy 2-1 quarter-final win over Latvia in the Olympic men's ice hockey tournament on Wednesday to keep their gold medal defence on track.
Despite dominating play and outshooting the plucky Latvians 57-16, Canada needed a late goal from Shea Weber to move into the semi-finals, where they will take on the United States in a rematch of the 2010 Vancouver Games gold medal game.
After trading goals in the opening period, Canada threw everything at Latvia but could not find the winner until Weber blasted a low slap-shot past netminder Kristers Gudlevskis with just under seven minutes to play.
"We did a great job, we tried. We left all our strength out there," said Gudlevskis. "There is not enough. It was exciting and hard."
"This is the highest level we are going to play. This is even a higher level than NHL and if you can play here, you can play everywhere.
"It really means a lot for me."
Seeded 11th in the 12-nation field and winless through preliminary-round play, the Latvians were not expected to present a threat to Canada's title defence.
But with the Bolshoy Ice Dome still buzzing after Russia's quarter-final loss to Finland, Canada needed all their skill and a dash good fortune to avoid joining the hosts at the exit. Continued...