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Fans in Latvia watching Canucks games at 4 a.m. to see national hero Silovs

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The legend of Arturs Silovs seems to grow every game – whether he’s staring down Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl with the game on the line, or joking about it after.

“Which one?” he quipped last week when asked to describe a point-blank save on Draisaitl to maintain the Vancouver Canucks 5-4 lead over the Edmonton Oilers in Game 1 of their second round playoff series.

With the series tied 2-2, Silovs’ playoff heroics have quickly made him a fan favourite in Vancouver and front page news in his home country of Latvia.

Fans in the hockey-mad Baltic nation of just 1.8-million people have been waking up at 4 a.m. local time to watch the Canucks.

“Silovs, he’s our national hero,” said Kristaps Andrejsons, a journalist and hockey fan. “So, of course we are fans of the Canucks.”

Silovs backstopped his homeland to bronze at last years IIHF World Championships – the country’s first-ever medal at the annual tournament.

Following a 4-3 victory over the United States in the bronze-medal game, Latvia’s parliament had an impromptu sitting at midnight to declare the next day a national holiday.

Some 30,000 delirious fans packed the historic district in the capital of Riga so they could celebrate Silovs and his teammates.

“If he also manages to bring Stanley Cup to Latvia then it’s going to be pushed beyond national hero,” said Andrejsons. “I think he will get a statue, a proper one from metal or something, and streets are going to be named after him.”

For all his success on the ice, including four wins in this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs, 23-year-old Silovs remains grounded and humble.

"I was battling for the guys. They did such an amazing job today and in my mind I couldn't let them down,” he said after the Game 1 win over Edmonton.

The Stanley Cup has eluded the Canucks and their fans for 54 years – but perhaps there is inspiration to be found in the recent success of the Latvian national team.

“If we did our breakout last season, then I’m pretty sure you guys can finally get your Stanley Cup and it’s going to be awesome,” said Andrejsons.

Should that dream come true with Silovs playing a starring role, Riga won’t be the only place people want to immortalize him with a statue.

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