Latvia beaten by Canada in hockey World Championship semi-final

Latvia's hockey team lost to Canada 4:2 in the first semi-final of the IIHF World Championship in Tampere, Finland, May 27.

For two out of three periods the dream of a place in the final remained very much alive. Latvia opened the scoring after 8 minutes thanks to Dans Ločmelis and closed out the period with their lead intact.

The second period saw Samuel Blais equalize for Canada in the 35th minute, only for Rudolfs Balcers to restore Latvia's lead just one minute later, with the action getting spicy at times as both teams showed total commitment. 

The third period was always going to be a long one, and hopes Latvia might have had of simply hanging on evaporated within seconds with Jack Quinn finding the net for Canada from a very tight angle. The pain was compounded in the 48th minute when the busy Adam Fantilli put the Canadians into the lead for the first time in the match.

Cheered on by the hundreds of travelling fans, the Latvian team did their best to bother the Canadian defense, but the maple leafs displayed great calm and organization in dampening the threat and managed the game towards the final hooter. With a minute still remaining, Latvia removed its goal tender – a decision that was immediately punished when Scott Laughton found the empty net from distance to make the score 4:2.

Despite the disappointment of defeat, the Latvian team can hold their heads high. They have never reached the semi-final of the World Championship before and at no point did they look out of place sharing the ice with the powerful Canadian ice hockey machine. A heroes' welcome surely awaits them at Rīga Airport, but before that there is the small matter of the bronze medal game on Sunday.  

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