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Canada to face upstart Latvia in hockey quarterfinals

<p>Canada's hockey gold medal defense continues Wednesday with a quarterfinal matchup against Latvia.</p>

Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Canada's hockey gold medal defense continues Wednesday with a quarterfinal matchup against Latvia.

The Canadians secured the third overall seed in the playoff round by winning Group B, beating Norway, Austria and Finland. The win over the Finns came in overtime on Sunday and enabled the Canadians to avoid the fourth seed, which would have meant a quarterfinal matchup with Russia.

Instead, it will be Latvia, which advanced to the quarters with a surprising 3-1 win against Switzerland on Tuesday. Latvia was 0-3 in Group C play and was outscored 10-5 in the preliminary round, but on Tuesday beat an offensively challenged Swiss team that managed only three goals in its four games during the tournament.

Latvia had dropped a 1-0 decision to the Swiss in the Group C opener, losing on a goal with 7.9 seconds remaining in regulation, but exacted a measure of revenge on Tuesday. Lauris Darzins scored twice for the Latvians and Edgars Masalskis stopped 32-of-33 shots in the victory.

It will get much tougher for the Latvians against the Canadians, whose offense has come from its defense. Of the 11 goals scored by Canada in the first three games, six have come from the blue line.

Drew Doughty has four goals and an assist for Canada, while fellow defenseman Shea Weber has added two goals and two assists. Jeff Carter has three goals to lead the forwards, all coming in a 6-0 blowout of Austria.

The Canadian defense has also been stellar in its own end, permitting just 58 shots in the three games. Carey Price turned aside all but two of the 35 shots he faced in two games, while Roberto Luongo made 23 saves in the shutout of Austria.

Canada has prevailed despite limited production from superstar Sidney Crosby, who has just two assists.

The winner will take on the victor between the United States and the Czech Republic in the semifinals.

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