Latvia into world junior quarter-finals after first-ever preliminary round win

Ralfs Bergmanis had a hat trick and Latvia beat Czechia 5-2 on Sunday to secure a quarter-final spot in the world junior championship.

Ralfs Bergmanis paces offence with hat trick against Czechia; U.S. tops Sweden

Latvia's Ralfs Bergmanis (16), Martins Lavins (6) and Girts Silkalns (15) celebrate a goal against Czechia during second period IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship action in Edmonton on Sunday. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

Ralfs Bergmanis had a hat trick and Latvia beat Czechia 5-2 on Sunday to secure a quarter-final spot in the world junior championship.

Latvia (1-2-1) was third in Group A, a spot ahead of Czechia (1-2-1). Latvia got into the event when Russia and Belarus were expelled.

The win over Czechia was Latvia's first victory at the world juniors since its 2-1 win over Denmark on January 4, 2012, marking a span of 3,875 days between wins. That game, however, was for relegation, so the victory snapped Latvia's 0-27 streak in the preliminary round.

U.S. atop Group B at 4-0

Harvard forward Matthew Coronato scored twice and the defending champion United States held off Sweden 3-2 on Sunday night to finish 4-0 in Group B play.

Brett Berard also scored for the Americans and Kaidan Mbereko made 28 saves. The U.S. will face the Czech Republic — the fourth-place team in Group A— in the quarter-finals Wednesday.

"We were moving our feet best in the third period and were really playing to our identity in that final period," U.S. coach Nate Leaman said. "I thought we were a little tight to start the game but that's to be expected. It's better to get that out of the way before quarter-finals."

Sweden (2-1) rallied in the third, with Emil Andrae cutting it to 3-1 with 9:22 to go and Ake Stakkestad making it a one-goal game on a power play with 1:45 left and goalie Jesper Wallstedt off for an extra attacker.

Sweden will play Germany (2-1) on Monday for second place in the group.

Elsewhere, Kasper Simontaival had two goals and an assist in Finland's 9-3 victory over Slovakia. Joel Maatta also scored twice for Finland (2-1), which will face Canada (3-0) on Monday for the top spot in the group.

Slovakia finished 0-3-1.

with files from CBC Sports

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