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Olympic Hockey

Ted Nolan’s Latvians Upset Swiss, Will Face Canada

USATSI_7750812_154158418_lowresA couple days ago, yours truly attempted to chart the future and suggested that Team Canada will take on the Swiss on Wednesday night. But that prediction went out the window on Tuesday as Team Latvia knocked off Team Switzerland by a final score of 3-1.

Yes, the 11th seed in the qualification playoffs defeated the Swiss. Yes, the team without a win in the preliminary round defeated the number six seed in the qualification playoffs. Yes, the…

Now, the Latvians had always believed in themselves and head coach Ted Noland pushed them hard to make sure they could get the job done. And now the Baltic nation with roughly 2,008,700 inhabitants has a great hockey story to tell, even if they can’t get by the Canadians on Wednesday.

“To get a win at the Olympics is something we would all like to have,” Nolan said. “To go a little bit further is what we are here for. That is what the Olympics are all about. Miracles can happen.”

“We played as a team, we stuck together, even when the times got tough in the game,” said team captain Sandis Ozolinsh. “Now, I am really proud of this group of guys. Each one of them is responsible for this win as much as the other guys.”

Latvia’s game essentially amounts to strong team defence and physicality, with goalie Edgars Masalskis holding the fort. He made 32 saves in the win over the Swiss.

“Our goalie just stood on his head to give us the win,” said Latvia forward Zemgus Girgensons.

So now, Masalskis is going to have to stand on his head again against Team Canada.

“It’s going to be really tough for us, but we’ll try to give them a hard time,” Latvian forward Lauris Daugavins said. “You never know, miracles happened before – as long as we earn the miracle. We just have to go out there and work hard and have fun, just as we did today. Our goalie might stop every shot, he’s good. You never know.”

As covered extensively, the Canadians have had trouble putting the puck in the net – relatively speaking, of course. They’ve looked defensively solid and goalie Carey Price will start against Team Latvia, however, and that could be enough to give this excited club some trouble.

But then again, miracles can happen. Canada’d better be ready.

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