World Cup in Riga – The quarter-finals of the World Cup in Riga will be a classic between Russia and Canada, the two most successful nations in ice hockey to date.
Eastern Europeans have won 27 World Cup titles so far, North Americans their 26. Russians are the favorites this time. While the Olympic champions scored 17 points out of a possible 21 in the preliminary round, the Canadian started the tournament with three losses – a novelty. Most recently they lost against defending champions Finland in a penalty shootout, which is why they had to rely on a game between Germany and hosts Latvia (2-1) to be the winner after 60 minutes.
The performance of the Canadians so far is not a big surprise, as the quality of the team is manageable due to several rejections. The last time the two teams met in a World Cup quarter-final was three years ago, Canada won 5-4.
The United States also provided much better teams, but the Americans finished in first place in Group B. They won six in a row after an early loss against Finland (1:2). No team scored fewer goals than USA (8). The opponent in the quarterfinals is the unpredictable Slovakia.
The outcome of the duel between Finland and the Czech Republic seems completely open. When the 2006 World Cup took place in Riga, the Eastern Europeans won silver and the Finns bronze. While the latter surprisingly won the title two years ago, the Czech Republic, led by Zug captain Jan Kovar, have been waiting for a World Cup medal for nine years.