Team USA has played Latvia four times in its opening game of a men’s world championship, including in 2009, 2008, 1997 and 1938, and has won each of those four contests. The two teams have faced off 15 times in the all-time series with the U.S. holding a 10-1-0-3-1 advantage (W-OTW-OTL-L-T).
David Quinn, head coach of Team USA, is looking forward to today’s matchup. “We’ve had to come together in a short period of time and I like our group. They bring a lot of energy, are fun to be around and excited to be here. Latvia is always a very difficult team to play against, so we’ll have our work cut out for us but we’re ready for the challenge.”
The U.S. arrived in Helsinki on Sunday and practiced at Malmi Arena in the Helsinki neighborhood of Malmi Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. The U.S. played its lone exhibition game on Wednesday against Canada at Helsinki Ice Hall and then moved to Tampere, Finland, and Nokia Arena where it practiced yesterday.
The U.S. has medaled in four of the last eight men’s world championships, its best medal streak in nine decades.
Team USA is playing in Group B, which along with Latvia includes Austria, Finland, Great Britain, Sweden, Czechia and Norway. Group A features Canada, Germany, Switzerland, Slovakia, Denmark, Kazakhstan, Italy and France.
The tournament format includes teams playing round robin within their Group and then a cross-over quarterfinal round with the top four teams in each Group competing. The semifinal round follows, with the tournament concluding with bronze and gold-medal games.
Team USA’s roster features eight first or second-round NHL Draft picks as well as 2022 U.S. Olympians Strauss Mann, Ben Meyers and Sean Farrell. Seth Jones, who is playing in his sixth IIHF world championship and third men’s world championship, is Team USA’s captain, while Austin Watson and Nate Schmidt are the team’s alternate captains.