Latvia Gets Relegated for 2018 World Juniors

Latvia Gets Relegated for 2018 World Juniors

Steven Ellis04 Jan 2017Steven Ellis»

Latvia will be replaced by Belarus at the 2018 World Juniors in Buffalo following a 4-1 loss to Finland to finish off a two-game relegation series at the Bell Centre in Montreal.


Latvia will be replaced by Belarus at the 2018 World Juniors in Buffalo following a 4-1 loss to Finland to finish off a two-game relegation series at the Bell Centre in Montreal.

The first period, like most of the first relegation game, ended up in a 1-1 tie. After getting a two-man advantage after just 50 seconds of play, the Finns took full advantage by scoring a goal on the 5-on-3. At 1:33, 2017 NHL Draft prospect Eeli Tolvanen took a pass from Aapeli Rasanen and wired it past Mareks Mitens 's glove hand, putting the Finns in the lead early.

But at 16:23, Latvia got a PP goal on their own. Oshawa Generals forward Renars Krastenbergs converted on a pass from Karlis Cukste and sent the shot past Veini Vehvilainen's blocker to make it 1-1 heading into the first intermission.

Both teams took their fair share of penalties, which really made it tough to put together consistent runs. The Finns particularly weren't able to capitalise on a two-man advantage in the final two minutes of the second, and instead took their own penalty that would carry over into the third period.

Two goals in the first three minutes of the third essentially put the game out of reach for Latvia. At 1:28 in the third, Mississauga Steelheads defenseman Ville Saarijarvi took a blast from far out that beat Mitens for the go-ahead goal. Then, a minute later, Jusso Valimaki scored the lone even-strength goal of the game with a good shot of his own, giving the Finns the 3-1 lead.

Latvia's penalty issues would hurt them dearly, taking 13 minor penalties in the contest. On their last one, Valimaki scored his second of the game with a blast from the outside the slot at 57:26, putting the Finns on top 4-1 and avoiding relegation while sending Latvia down to Division IA in the process.

Follow me on Twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.

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