Remember when….2006
by Andrew Podnieks|12 MAY 2023
Lauris Darzins played at the 2021 Worlds in Latvia as well as the first hosting, in 2006.
photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation / Matt Zambonin
It has been a long time now since Riga hosted their first World Championship games, and they also hosted in 2021 during COVID-19 where fans were only permitted for a few games. Nevertheless, let’s use the moment to take a walk down memory lane and look back at that first tournament in Riga, 2006.

Game 1 USA-NOR
It didn’t take long for fun things to happen. The U.S. fell behind early to Norway, 1-0, but then Dustin Brown took matters into his own hands scoring all three goals in a comeback 3-1 win.

Game 3 CAN-DEN
Crazy as it seems, 2006 marked the World Championship debut of 18-year-old Sidney Crosby, who had just finished a 100-point rookie season in Pittsburgh. And coach Marc Habschied put him on a line with another youngster, Patrice Bergeron. The two made magic, Crosby scoring twice on passes from the Boston Bruins’ forward. 

Game 4 LAT-CZE
The hosts made their loud and noisy debut at home, playing the Czech Republic to a hard-fought and inspired 1-1 tie. Both goals came in the first period.

Game 12 CAN-NOR
Canada easily beat Norway in their second game, and it was more vintage Sid the Kid. Crosby had a goal and three assists and was showing the world he was every good as his reputation suggested.

Game 15 SVK-KAZ
Slovakia beat Kazakhstan, 6-0, in a game which featured a whopping 23 minor penalties, 16 to Kazakhstan.

Game 22 UKR-ITA
If Game 15 was wild, that was nothing compared to this 4-2 Ukraine win over Italy. Teams combined for 94 PIMs, but late in the game Tony Iob and Sergiy Klimentyev were tossed from the game for fighting—and they continued to fight off the ice, in the hallway leading to the dressing rooms. IIHF personnel had to break up the fisticuffs, and suspensions followed.

Game 24 SWE-SUI
Another odd thing happened during Switzerland’s 4-4 tie with Sweden. Early in the second period, a large hole developed in the ice by the players’ benches. Play was delayed for 25 minutes while staff filled in the gap with snow and froze it using fire extinguishers.

Game 26 CAN-LAT
This might have been the craziest of all. Canada beat hosts Latvia, 11-0, an unflattering score by any measure. Worse, Canada scored a record NINE power-play goals, much to the chagrin of local fans who littered the ice with coins. A lengthy delay ensued, but the game concluded in record fashion.

Game 35 LAT-USA
Latvia continued to play well, and in this game against the U.S. fought hard in a 2-2 game into the second period. But the Americans prevailed and scored two late goals to win.

Game 39 CZE-CAN
The Czechs beat Canada, 6-4, in a truly back-and-forth game. The Czechs burst out to a 3-0 lead, only to see Canada rally and tie the game. The Czechs went ahead 4-3, but a Crosby to Bergeron goal tied it at 4. Then, early in the third the Czechs scored twice and Canada had no answer.

Game 54 SWE-CAN
Sweden’s Mika Hannula famously earned a game misconduct for a hit to Crosby, but a fierce Canadian rally from 5-2 down fell short and Tre Kronor held on for a 5-4 win in the semi-finals.

Game 55 FIN-CAN
Backed by Fredrik Norrena, who stopped 37 shots, Finland beat Canada, 5-0, to earn the bronze medal.

Game 56 SWE-CZE
Going for gold, Sweden shut out the Czechs, 4-0. Johan Holmqvist earned the shutout for the victors, who won gold for the first time since 1998. The team was coached by Bengt-Ake Gustafsson, who earned three medals in his six years as coach.