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Lauris Darzins scored two goals for Latvia as Bob Hartley’s team threatened an upset against the Czechs. But the Baltic nation ran into penalty trouble, with two players ejected from the game, and the Czechs rallied to win. Sakari Manninen got Finland’s game-winner against Denmark, while Sweden piled up the goals against Austria.

Latvia 3 Czech Republic 6 (2-0, 0-4, 1-2)

Latvia lost out to the Czech Republic in a pulsating game in Bratislava. Lauris Darzins scored twice – the first was a dazzling solo effort – but the Dinamo Riga stalwart was also ejected from the game late on as the Czech battled to a 6-3 win.

Photo: 16.05.19. 2019 IIHF World Championship. Latvia - Czech republic

The early stages were all Latvia: Dynamo Moscow’s Miks Indrasis opened the scoring on a 5-on-3 power play before Darzins doubled the lead after stickhandling through centre ice and bursting between two Czech defensemen before deking past the goalie.

However, the game changed on a major penalty against Maris Bicevskis for a high hit on Michal Repik. Ronalds Kenins was among those who was unsure about the call. “Maybe it killed us, that penalty,” he told “I don't think that was a good call. But it's up to the refs. He just put him in a bad position and the ref called a five-minute major. That definitely stopped us a little bit. But we kept going. They played well. They got a couple of lucky goals.”

The second period saw the Czech score four without reply to take control of the game. Former Metallurg favorite Jan Kovar got the tying goal and Jakub Voracek finished with two. Darzins also scored twice, but in a losing cause.

The result sees the Czech Republic consolidate third place in Group B with three wins from four. Russia and Switzerland still lead the way with perfect records from their four games. Latvia has just one victory in four games and goalie Elvis Merzlikins, visibly frustrated with the outcome, admitted that the team now has only a faint hope of reaching the next round.

Latvia’s next game is against Russia on Saturday. Kenins vowed to put Thursday’s loss behind him before that test. “We’ll try to recover as fast as we can and then play the way we started off against the Czechs,” he said. “If we can do that, then good things can happen for us.”

Manninen gives Finland victory

Jokerit’s Sakari Manninen potted the game-winner as Finland defeated Denmark 3-1. After a goalless first period, the Danes opened the scoring through Morten Madsen early in the second. Finland tied the game through wunderkind Kaapo Kakko, who moves to 7 (6+1) points for the tournament. Manninen’s 35th-minute strike made the difference and Kakko added an assist as Harri Pesonen made the game safe in the 52ndminute.

The afternoon games brought comfortable victories for Sweden and Canada against Austria and France respectively. For Sweden, Gabriel Landeskog needed just 69 seconds to open the scoring after arriving in Slovakia earlier that morning. The winger flew overnight to Europe after the Avalanche agreed to release him to play at the Worlds but showed no signs of jetlag as he fired home the Swedes’ first goal of the afternoon.

That effort sparked a five-goal rush in the first period. In the second, Metallurg’s Dennis Rasmussen added a sixth and the game ended in a 9-1 Swedish success. Michael Raffl got the Austrian consolation. Sweden has also added Torpedo defenseman Philip Holm to the roster, completing its 25-man selection for the championship.

Canada also made a fast start against the French. First-period goals from Anthony Mantha, Darnell Nurse and Anthony Cirelli opened a 3-0 lead – but it didn’t all go to plan after that. Damien Fleury got the only goal of the second period on a power play and Anthony Rech struck early in the third to make it a one-goal game. Canada recovered its composure and Mantha’s second of the game calmed any nerves before Mark Stone made the final score 5-2.

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