Canucks goalie Silovs is a national hero in Latvia after monumental upset

May 25 2023, 9:44 pm

Arturs Silovs is a national hero in hockey-mad Latvia. The 22-year-old Vancouver Canucks goalie has lifted his country to new heights at the IIHF World Championship in Riga, backstopping Latvia to a 3-1 upset over Sweden in the quarter-finals.

It means that Latvia will play for a medal for the first time ever, after Silovs stopped 40 of 41 Swedish shots he faced. Latvia was outshot 41-15 in the game.

Silovs allowed just one goal in the second period, to Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Timothy Liljegren, despite Sweden outshooting Latvia 12-1 in the middle frame.

Latvia, which has a population of less than two million people, is known for having some of the most passionate hockey fans in the world. Needless to say, it was bedlam in Riga as the final seconds ticked away and Latvia secured the major upset victory.

“We owe it to our fans, they’re buying tickets, spending big money to come watch us. We just started grinding shift by shift, period by period and here we are,” said Latvian captain Kaspars Daugavins, per the IIHF website. “Obviously Arturs [Silovs] is a big part of our team’s success, saving us when we make a mistake but we’ve been limiting those things. They’ve been happening less and less, which gives us a chance.”

Silovs leads all goaltenders at the World Championship in minutes played, as he has started every game for Latvia since stealing the No. 1 job in the tournament opener. Latvia has won six of Silovs’ seven starts, but none bigger than the quarter-final win over Sweden.

Silovs now boasts a .926 save percentage and a 2.00 goals-against average, which are incredible numbers for a goaltender playing on a team nobody expected to play for a medal. But that’s exactly what Latvia will do, following Saturday’s semi-final against Canada.

Three other Canucks players are still alive at the World Championship, including Tyler Myers and Ethan Bear, who are both suiting up for Team Canada. They cruised to a 4-1 win over Finland today. Conor Garland and Team USA will play Germany in the other semi-final.

The bronze and gold medal games are set for Sunday.

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