The loss ensures the Kazakhs will finish in last place of Group A and will be demoted to Division I-A for 2017.
“It was a decisive game for us and we didn’t have any margin for error,” said Kazakh defenceman Maxim Semyonov. “We worked hard, but our opponents did a good job and capitalized on our errors in defence.”
The win still gives the Latvians a chance at qualifying for the quarter-finals. It was the fourth win in as many games against Kazakhstan in World Championship play.
The winning goal came off a play behind the Kazakh net. Bicevskis scooped up a loose puck and came out front on a quick wraparound, shoving the puck in the far side before goalie Vitali Kolesnik could get his pad over.
“I can’t really say how much luck was involved,” Bicevskis said. “I saw Miks (Indrasis) doing some great work behind the net, and I saw there was a space where I could get to the net and I just went for it.”
“The game against the Swiss was hard for me because it was my first game in the competition, but tonight was the toughest because it was so important to win,” admitted Latvian goaltender Elvis Merzlikins, who stopped 19 of 20 Kazakh shots.
The first period produced one of the best goals of the tournament to date. Nikita Ivanov controlled the puck at centre ice and drove down the right wing. He deked Guntis Galvins out of his socks, barreled in on goal, and drilled a great shot to the far side, giving Kazakhstan a 1-0 lead just 4:37 into the game.
The next goal didn’t come for more than half a game. In the interim there was some nervous play, sloppy play, power-play chances, and great goaltending at both ends. But just when t looked like the Kazakhs would nurse that one-goal lead through two periods, they made two bad errors.
Kolesnik made a poor clearing right onto the stick of Miks Indrasis, but his quick shot was stopped by the goalie as he scrambled back to his crease. Moments later, Maxim Semyonov failed to handle a pass from Roman Savchenko along the boards.
The puck squirted out to Kaspars Daugavins, and he skated in quickly, drilling a shot over Merzlikins’s glove at 15:16 to tie the game.
That set the stage for a dramatic third period, with relegation and survival at stake for both teams.