Both Latvia and Czechia are going into Sunday’s game reeling from losses in their previous game. Latvia did get an extra point for taking Slovakia to overtime. The Czechs are coming off a 5-1 thumping from Team Canada on Saturday. Both teams are trying to jostle for position in Group A. The Latvia vs Czechia matchup is a key one at the 2022 World Junior Championships.
A win for Latvia would get them out of the basement in the group. There is no relegation and a three-point victory would put them into fourth spot and a possible quarterfinal berth. They would leapfrog Slovakia if the Slovaks can’t get a point against Finland in the early game. Czechia could still get second in the group if Finland loses to Slovakia in the group finale.
2022 World Junior Championship
Latvia vs Czechia
The Latvians may be replacing Russia in the tournament, but they are giving a good account of themselves. They only lost 5-2 to host Canada after a slow start versus Finland. Some thought the team would be overmatched, but are hanging in there. Getting to the quarterfinals would be a giant step forward for the Latvian program.
Player to watch
Girts Silkalns has a pair of assists to lead in that category for Latvia. The 19-year-old is a big body at 6-foot-2-inches and 187 pounds. He’s been putting players in position to score goals. He’ll have to be on his game if Latvia wants to spring the upset and get into the quarters.
The Czechs did have an early lead on Canada thanks to Martin Rysavy’s marker. However, the rest of the game didn’t go so well for Czechia. Canada put its foot down and rolled to a 5-1 victory. The hosts peppered Tomas Suchanek with 57 shots, but he made 52 saves to prevent a blowout like Austria suffered to the Americans. This Czech team is likely in the quarterfinals, but would love to avoid the United States in the last eight.
Player to watch
Rysavy is a pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets from the seventh round in the 2021 NHL Draft. His goal gave his country a good start against Canada, but things went wrong after that. He’s got two goals on seven shots so far and can give the Czechs another option other than Montreal Canadiens prospect Jan Mysak.
It’s always hard to gauge how a team will do coming off back-to-back games. Suchanek took a lot vulcanized rubber and Jan Bednar could get the start. The Czechs better not sleep on Latvia or they could be facing a date with the Americans in the playoffs.
Latvia is coming in with low expectations, but will want to win this game. It won’t be easy, but stranger things can happen in a one-game scenario. One won’t be able to tell how Czechia will react to a game where they were outclassed later on.
However, the Czechs should close out pool play with a win. It’s going to be a big momentum builder for their team in the elimination round.
Prediction: Czechia wins 4-2.
Gabby and Czechia fell 4-3 in the shootout at the #WorldJuniors today.
They’ll face Canada next on Saturday at 3:00 pm PT.
📸 Martin Voltr pic.twitter.com/f3fdBpjbLd
— Kelowna Rockets (@Kelowna_Rockets) August 11, 2022