2023 24 nmu18t can lat matchup

U18 Men’s Worlds Preview: Canada vs. Latvia

Thursday, May 2 | 12:45 p.m. ET | Vantaa, Finland | Quarterfinal

Jason LaRose
May 2, 2024

It’s on to the playoffs for Canada’s National Men’s Under-18 Team, which faces off against Latvia in the last of four quarterfinals on Thursday at the 2024 IIHF U18 World Championship.

Last Game

Canada closed the preliminary round in style, beating Kazakhstan 11-3 on Tuesday. Gavin McKenna continued his torrid scoring pace, scoring twice and adding four assists, while captain Porter Martone added a goal and four helpers of his own. In all, 10 different Canadians scored goals and 17 of the 19 skaters recorded at least a point.

Latvia wrapped up its prelim schedule Monday with a 5-3 loss to Norway. Daniels Serkins, Martins Klaucans and Darels Uljanskis provided the offence for the Latvians, who trailed 3-0 after the first period and 5-1 after 40 minutes.

Last Meeting

The teams met in preliminary-round action at the 2021 U18 Men’s Worlds, a 4-2 victory for the Canadians. Mason McTavish paced the offence for Canada with two goals and an assist, while Dylan Guenther added a goal and a helper. The Canadians peppered Latvian netminder Karlis Mezsargs with 52 shots and twice had the eastern Europeans pull within a goal, but saw out its second win en route to gold in Texas.

What to Watch

McKenna (6-8—14) and Martone (4-9—13) are in the process of rewriting the Team Canada record book. The duo have basically every major offensive record in sight between them – both all-time and in a single tournament. Martone, who won bronze a year ago as an underager, sits just two points back of Connor Bedard for the all-time scoring lead (21), and his four assists Tuesday moved him past Cody Hodgson and Mathew Barzal for most assists by a Canadian at the tournament (he has 12), and within one of Hodgson’s single-tournament record (10). McKenna is just three goals back of Shane Wright for the single-tournament record (9), and both players are within striking distance of the single-tournament points record of 15, currently held by Tyson Jost (2015) and Macklin Celebrini (2023).

Olivers Murnieks is the second-youngest player on the ice in Finland (Kazakhstan defenceman Svyatoslav Evplov is four weeks younger), but the 15-year-old has been a key cog for the Latvia machine. Only eight forwards are averaging more ice time than Murnieks (who’s at 19:30 per game), and he contributed a goal and two assists in the prelims, scoring in the win over Slovakia that secured the playoff spot for the Latvians. He played 18 games for HK Mogo in the Optibet Hockey League, the top men’s league in Latvia, finishing with 15 points (5-10—15).

A Look Back

Canada has owned the head-to-head history, winning all six meetings by a combined score of 36-12.

The most memorable of those six came in the tournament opener in 2015 in Switzerland, when the teams combined for 17 goals in an 11-6 Canadian win. Jérémy Roy scored a hat trick, Mitchell Stephens had two goals and an assist and Barzal had three helpers for Canada, which erased an early deficit and took control with six unanswered goals in a span of 6:49 in the second period.

All-time record: Canada leads 6-0
Canada goals: 36
Latvia goals: 12

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

Recent News
Most Popular
2024 WPHC: CAN 2 – USA 1 (Gold Medal)
Kingsmill was sensational, backstopping Canada to a world title.
2024 WPHC: CAN 2 – CHN 1 (Semifinal)
Kovacevich and Cozzolino scored to send Canada to play for gold.
2024 WPHC: CAN 5 – CZE 1 (Preliminary)
Dunn and McGregor had 2G each as Canada capped a perfect prelims.
2024 WPHC: CAN 10 – ITA 0 (Preliminary)
McGregor scored four goals to help Canada to its second win.