Canucks goalie Silovs has become unlikely star at World Championship

May 24 2023, 1:55 am

Arty is having a coming-out party at the IIHF World Championship. Vancouver Canucks prospect Arturs Silovs has become an unlikely star at the tournament, taking over as Latvia’s No. 1 goaltender midway through their first game against Canada and never looking back.

And now the 22-year-old has led them to a place they’ve rarely been.

Latvia upset Switzerland in the final game of the preliminary round today, with Silovs stopping 29 of the 32 shots he faced, including three off the stick of LA Kings star Kevin Fiala. The 4-3 overtime victory handed the Swiss their first loss of the tournament, and punched Latvia’s ticket to the quarter-final.

The Latvians finished third in Group B with five wins (including two in overtime) and two losses. They placed behind Switzerland and Canada in their group, but ahead of countries like Czechia and Slovakia.

Latvia is through to the quarter-final of this tournament for just the fifth time in their history, which is a big deal for the hockey-crazed nation.

Silovs described the win as “pure joy” following the game, per the IIHF official website. Video from Riga, which is co-hosting the tournament, confirms Latvian fans felt the same way.

Silovs, who leads the tournament in minutes played, is a huge reason why. The Canucks netminder has posted a .914 save percentage and 2.14 goals-against average in seven games, with one shutout.

Not bad for a goalie that played the majority of last season in the American Hockey League with the Abbotsford Canucks.

Silovs’ World Championship success is just the latest step forward for the Riga-born goaltender. He had a 26-12-5 record in 44 games for Abbotsford in 2022-23, posting a .909 save percentage. Silovs looked good in limited NHL action also, posting a 3-2-0 record with a .908 percentage with Vancouver.

It’s quite the rise for Silovs, who had just 11 AHL games on his resume prior to this season, and spent half of last season in the ECHL.

Some will wonder what this means for Silovs next season. The Canucks are currently without an obvious backup goaltender, and the 6-foot-4 Latvian is making an excellent case for himself.

The Canucks could opt to keep Silovs in Abbotsford, but for how long?

Next up for Silovs and Latvia is a quarter-final date with Sweden on Thursday. If the Latvians win that, Silovs will have indeed taken his country to new heights, with a first-ever trip to the semi-finals.

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