The IIHF World Championships rolled along over the weekend in Minsk, Belarus. The four Buffalo Sabres players participating in the tournament all found themselves on the winning side of at least one of their games. All of the games were decided in the third period.
Latvia, coached by Sabres bench boss Ted Nolan, continues to make waves in the hockey world. In their opening game of the tournament on Saturday, they defeated Team Finland for the first time in international competition.
For the World Championships, the Latvians returned 14 players from the 2014 Olympic roster including Sabres center Zemgus Girgensons, Kaspars Daugavins and goaltenders Edgars Masalskis and Kristers Gudlevskis. Masalskis stopped 22 shots in the 3-2 win while Pekka Rinne made 23 saves for Finland.
Arturs Kulda put Latvia up with 7:38 to play in regulation and the team was able to hold on for the victory. Daugavins finished with a goal and an assist.
Girgensons was on the ice for Latvia’s game-tying goal 7:48 into the third period and he finished the game with a plus-1 rating.
However, the Latvians fell to Germany on Sunday by a score of 3-2. Thomas Oppenheimer scored on a penalty shot with 4:34 left in the game to break the tie and win the game.
For those looking ahead to the 2014 NHL Draft, Leon Draisaitl, ranked fourth among skaters playing in North America by NHL Central Scouting, is playing for Team Germany. He assisted on Germany’s game-tying goal in their 2-1 win over Kazakhstan on Saturday but was held without a point on Sunday in 13:42 of ice time against Latvia.
Forward Cody Hodgson scored the goal-ahead goal at the 7:07 mark of the third period in Canada’s 4-1 win over Slovakia on Saturday. With the game tied 1-1, Hodgson wristed a shot past the glove of goaltender Jan Larco to put the Canadians in the lead.
Hodgson’s goal opened the floodgates for Canada as they were able to score two more goals before the final buzzer.
Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers picked up an assist and a plus-2 rating in 20:10 of action.
Canada, coming off a shootout loss to France on Friday, was looking to make a statement in the tournament. Joel Ward scored twice and Ben Scrivens stopped 23 shots.
Defenseman Jake McCabe, who played seven games with the Sabres toward the end of the season after his junior year at Wisconsin, skated 13:34 for Team USA in its 3-2 victory over Switzerland on Saturday. McCabe was on the ice for the winner and ended the game with a plus-1 rating and one shot on goal.
Peter Mueller, Craig Smith and Tyler Johnson scored for the Americans. Johnson’s game-winner came with 6:45 to play in the third.
Both the U.S. and Canada are back in action on Monday. The Americans will take on Russia while Team Canada will face the Czech Republic. Latvia next plays on Tuesday against Kazakhstan.
Canada is in Group A while the U.S., Latvia and Germany are in Group B. Team USA and Latvia are scheduled to meet on Thursday.
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