As it always is, the mantra for Team Latvia at the 2016 IIHF U18 World Championship is to avoid the relegation round. But talking about doing it has been easier than accomplishing that goal as Latvia find themselves winless after three games at this tournament, with their final match of the preliminary round coming later today against a Russian squad that has an overtime win in two games.
Latvia’s most recent game was one to forget, a 12-1 pasting at the hands of the tournament host Team USA. For Latvia, the effort was mostly there over the course of 60 minutes, but some sub-par goaltending mixed with a relentless USA attack were simply too much for the Latvians to overcome.
The lone goal-scorer for Latvia was forward Vladislavs Nazarovs, whose shorthanded marker made the score 3-1 and gave his team some very brief hope. But the USA scored just 1:12 later, and again just 25 seconds after that to dash whatever hopes Latvia had of making a comeback.
The primary assist on the Nazarovs goal went to Haralds Strombergs, a forward who competed for HK Riga of the MHL in 2015-16. Although no player on Team Latvia is ranked by NHL Central Scouting in their final rankings, Strombergs and many of his teammates are eligible for the 2016 NHL Draft. In the end, though, Latvia is at the U18 to try to maintain class rather than catch the eyes of the many NHL scouts in attendance.
Strombergs spoke with Hockey’s Future after the loss to the USA, a conversation that is captured in this HF video.
Game highlights from the Latvia-USA match can be viewed below.
Follow Hockey’s Future on Twitter via @