January 04 2017 01:15AM
So... Latvia lost. It's officially over. Finland was victorious against the Latvians in the second relegation game this evening, defeating Latvia 4-1 and staying alive in the WJC's top division. It was an unfortunate ending to a hard fought tournament for Latvia, as the team will return to Division I Group A for the 2018 World Juniors.
LAT VS. FIN
Once again, the game was not broadcasted on any North American network, and here's the game story, via the IIHF.
Martins Dzierkals had a wonderful tournament for the Latvians. He managed to create a bright spot on a very bad team throughout the entire tournament for Latvia. His skill was beyond impressive, and the individual effort exerted by Dzierkals, in nearly every game, was outstanding. He consistently played at a competitive pace, never once appearing to be hindered by the scoreboard or the prospect of his team facing relegation.
Dzierkals did not record a point through 2 relegation games against Finland. He had 3 points through 7 games for Latvia in the entirety of the tournament, which is impressive given the current state of his team.
Top 3 players in tournament for Latvia as selected by the coaches: Mareks Mittens (2017), Karlis Cukste (SJS) Martins Dzierkals (TOR).— (((Corey Pronman))) (@coreypronman) January 4, 2017
Here are each of Dzierkals' 3 points, starting with an assist against Russia on December 27th:
Up next, we have Dzierkals' goal against Canada from last Thursday:
WJC Highlight: Dzierkals pounces on a loose puck, turns on the jets, and fends off Myers to score a beauty from leafs
Finally, we have Dzierkals' assist against Slovakia in Latvia's final preliminary game:
Dzierkals is a very fun player to watch, and I believe he will have a future with the Leafs organization. I would like to see him develop his defensive game a little more, but he is skilled enough to play a role on the Marlies sometime in the near future. I believe Dzierkals would look good in the AHL, and hopefully, he will get that chance soon.
DAY 9 PREVIEW
With only 4 teams remaining, WJHC action continues tomorrow with two semi-final matchups: Russia vs. USA and Canada vs. Sweden. Jeremy Bracco and the Americans will be taking on the Russians after defeating them by a score of 3-2 in the preliminaries, just last week. The USA has not confirmed the starting goaltender for tomorrow's matchup, but after a stellar performance by Tyler Parsons in the quarterfinals, it is hard to imagine the Americans starting anyone but Parsons in the semis. That game will take place tomorrow at 3:00 EST in Montreal.
The second semifinal will take place between Canada and Sweden tomorrow at 7:30 EST. Sweden is undefeated in the tournament so far, and has been dominant since the preliminary round. Carl Grundstrom has been phenomenal for the Swedes, and will likely continue to dominate through the medal round.