Latvia have a national holiday after their first-ever bronze medal at the World Men’s Hockey Championship


It is a day that Latvia will never forget.

Less than 24 hours after surprising the United States to win bronze at the World Men’s Hockey Championship, the Latvian government decided to declare Monday to celebrate the victory.

It was Latvia’s first medal at a top division event, winning bronze in a tournament the nation was co-hosting with Finland.

According to Reuters, the last-minute decision to declare a public holiday has provoked some businesses in the region. But that didn’t stop more than 50,000 people from attending the Freedom Monument in Riga to celebrate the momentous victory in the country’s hockey history.

After losing the first two games of the World Championship, Latvia remained undefeated in the rest of the round robin. They then shocked Sweden in the quarter-finals to advance to the last four at all levels for the first time. Latvia then took two leads against Canada, only for the eventual tournament champions to take over at the end.

Latvia then took several leads against the United States, but found themselves trailing towards the end. A pair of goals for Calgary Wranglers defenseman Kristians Rubins – the equalizer and eventual medalist – would help write history for one of the proudest hockey nations in the world.

Before this year, Latvia had never finished better than seventh at the World Championship. But the past few years have seen significant successes for the country, including beating Canada on home soil in 2021, qualifying for the 2022 Olympics and beating Czechia to advance to the quarter-finals for the first time at the summer world junior championships.

But nothing beats finishing third in a group of 16 teams in a tournament that means so much to Europe’s competitors.

Vancouver Canucks goalie prospect Arturs Silovs was named tournament MVP and top goaltender, the first time a Latvian has received one of the tournament’s managerial awards.


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