The final game in the group stage saw Latvia needing to secure at least one point to proceed to the knockout stages of the tournament – which they managed in nail-biting fashion. Latvia took the lead via Ralfs Freibergs only for Switzerland to equalize. Latvia reclaimed the lead via Rodrigo Ābols only for Marco Miranda to tie things up again at 2:2.
The drama got even more intense with Switzerland taking the lead for the first time with just six minutes to go thanks to Andres Ambuhl – which had Latvia on the verge of a heartbreaking exit. But within a minute Kaspars Daugaviņš had struck back.
With no further scores during a frantic final few minutes, Latvia had gained the point they needed at the end of regulation time, meaning they could go into overtime knowing they were through to the next round, just like the table-topping Swiss.
With the intense pressure off, it was Latvia who added the cherry on top of the cake with a fourth goal from Rudolfs Balcers, giving them a famous 4:3 win.
Latvia is heading to the quarter-finals!🇱🇻🎉 #SUILAT #IIHFWorlds @lhf_lv pic.twitter.com/iSrnGDdrD1— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) May 23, 2023
The result means Latvia live to fight another day, and finish a creditable third in their group, while former world champions Slovakia face the disappointment of an exit from the competition.
The Latvian team will now play against Sweden on Thursday in Rīga.
You can find full details and more coverage at LSM's dedicated ice hockey section and the official world championship website.
SARAUJ LATVIA!!!!! @lhf_lv takes the win in overtime over @SwissIceHockey #IIHFWorlds pic.twitter.com/j8tRmBBPwK— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) May 23, 2023