Sabres fans who were rooting for Sabres coach Ted Nolan and forward Zemgus Girgensons were sadly treated to more heartbreak yesterday afternoon, as Latvia's Men's Hockey team suffered a last second 1-0 loss to Switzerland.
With 7.9 seconds left, Switzerland forward Simon Moser fired a pass towards the net, which caromed off of Latvian defenseman Georgijs Pujacs and into the back of the net. The goal proved to be a cruel result, especially considering the effort put forth by Latvia's goaltender Edgars Masalskis.
Masaslkis, who received the surprising nod in net, made 38 saves in total including several highlight-reel stops.The four-time Olympic veteran also managed to shake off a worrisome injury after being kneed in the back of the head during a first period scramble at the net. Masaslkis performance earned praise from his young teammate Girgensons.
"He played unbelievable and was the best player on the ice," the 20-year old Sabre said.
In his first Olympic contest, Girgensons failed to register a point or a shot on goal, but did display the same effort Sabres fans have become accustomed to. He also produced what may have been Latvia's best chance when in the third period, Girgensons drove the net and slid a dangerous pass across the crease. Unfortunately, Girgensons' teammates were unable to capitalize on the opportunity.
Following the game, Nolan praised his team and already was looking toward the team's next game.
"For a country of this size to go to four Olympic games in a row is an accomplishment, but now you have to take the next step to do something magical," Nolan said. "That's what the Olympics are all about."
Latvia continues its Olympic campaign tomorrow when it takes on a Czech Republic team who also lost their opening game, falling 4-2 to Sweden. The puck will drop at 3 am ET