IIHF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP BRONZE MEDAL MATCH PREVIEW
2023-05-28 · 2 min read · IIHF World Championship/Hockey
For the Bronze medal match we have one of the host nations Latvia, making their first ever appearance. Against the United States, who just got dealt a heartbreaker; as the Germans came back from 2-0 and 3-2 to beat them in OT 4-3. To me the biggest factor here is the mentality of the teams. For the US will they play with a fire under them after losing a winnable semi-final? Or have they already developed a losing mentality, due to them failing to reach their goal of a gold and losing an 11th (yes 11) straight semi-finals game. Latvia, we know has to be amped up getting to their first bronze medal in history, but will already securing their best ever finish make them complacent?
Both these teams were undone by comebacks in the semis as Latvia had a 2-1 lead going into the third, before finding themselves down 3-2; then 4-2 after letting an empty netter through. How a team responds to that sort of loss says a lot about them and their coach. For the US their coach David Quinn (current San Jose Sharks head coach) has never won a playoff game in the NHL and his only previous international coaching experiences was the 2022 Olympics; where team USA lost in the quarterfinals. Latvia bench boss Harijs Vitolins has almost twenty years of coaching experience, has been to three Gagarin cups, winning two and was the lead assistant for the Russian national team for years.
Latvia has to get pucks deep early and often. If they fail to rattle Casey DeSmith and he plays like he has for much of the tournament, Latvia will be hard pressed to find the twine. The Americans meanwhile need to stay diligent and protect the puck, or they could find themselves on the wrong end of another comeback. In a tough matchup to call, I'm going to give the edge to coaching experience. Plus, who doesn't want to see this Cinderella story have a happy ending.
My pick - Latvia 4-3
By: Chase Howard