It's hockeymania as Latvia dares to dream

The ice hockey game between Latvia and Canada at the IIHF World Championship in Tampere, Finland will be the undoubted highlight of the day for many in Latvia and, depending on the result, could end up the highlight of the decade.

It will be the second time the two teams have met in the tournament. In the previous encounter on May 12, Latvia was on the receiving end of a heavy 6:0 defeat and spirits among supporters were low, with many murmuring about a likely early exit from the tournament.

Two weeks later all that has changed. The Latvian squad has improved with each game and by making Saturday's semi-final – for the first time ever – after a convincing win over a powerful Swedish team, no-one is expecting another drubbing.

On the contrary, it's now possible to entertain thoughts that would have seemed pure fantasy on May 12, namely, potentially defeating mighty Canada. Among neutral observers, the Canadians will remain strong favorites to reach the final of the tournament. It's just that in Latvia right now, you won't find many neutral observers.

In the other semi-final, it's also a clear case of underdogs looking to overcome very powerful opposition. The former is Germany, the latter the United States. That game will take place later on Saturday after the Canada-Latvia match-up. The last two games of the tournament will take place Sunday, with the bronze medal play-off followed by the final itself.

For those not able to make the trip to Finland, the good news is that as usual, LSM and LTV7 will carry the game live. The action starts at 14:20 local time, with warm-up coverage for nearly an hour before that.

To get the buzz of being in a Latvian hockey crowd, fan zones with big screens have been set up in Dome Square and on the Esplanāde in central Rīga (the previous fan zone by Arena Rīga is no longer operating).

More details of the championships and schedules:

Full LSM/LTV coverage: 

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