Riga delivered in this must-win game, picking up a vital victory that keeps it just two points away from a playoff place. In front of a crowd of 9,500 at the High School No. 84 Sports Complex in the Latvian capital, the host took a first-period lead and never looked back as it had too much for Minsk.
Gints Meija opened the scoring in the 11th minute when he got to the rebound from an Emils Gegeris shot and scooped a backhander past Jhonas Enroth. The second period saw Riga move 2-0 in front thanks to Oskars Batnja, who added to his first-period assist when he redirected a Roberts Lipsbergs shot past the Swedish goalie. Fans with memories of last year, though, would recall how Minsk clawed back a two-goal deficit to win the first Winter Ice Break game. When Oleg Yevenko got one back for the visitor a few minutes later, there was some cause for concern but this time the host would not be caught.
In the final stanza, Vitalijs Pavlovs teased the Minsk defense before a kind bounce sent the puck to Andris Dzerins who stood all alone on the slot and beat Enroth. Riga might even have had a fourth: Kristaps Sotnieks won a penalty shot when he was hauled down by Jonathon Blum, but Lauris Darzins was unable to convert the opportunity.