GANGNEUNG, South Korea – Greg Westlake (Oakville, Ont.) had a hat trick to pace the offence, and Canada’s National Sledge Team scored early and often in a 9-0 win over Norway to open the 2017 IPC World Para Hockey Championship on Wednesday.
Westlake started the scoring just 30 seconds in – the first of six Canadian goals in the opening period.
Tyler McGregor (Forest, Ont.) and Liam Hickey (St. John’s, N.L.) added a goal and three assists apiece; in total, the top line combined for five goals and 12 points in the win.
Kevin Sorley (Petersburg, Ont.), Ben Delaney (Ottawa, Ont.), Adam Dixon (Midland, Ont.) and Billy Bridges (Summerside, P.E.I.) also found the back of the net for Canada.
After Dominic Cozzolino (Mississauga, Ont.) set up Westlake for the eventual game-winner, Kevin Sorley jammed in a loose puck in the crease to make it 2-0 just past the two-minute mark.
That’s when the floodgates opened. Delaney roofed a shot past Norwegian goaltender Kissinger Deng at 8:40, Westlake added his second at 10:09, Dixon showed off slick hands in tight at 10:41 and Hickey wired in a shot from the high slot at 11:20, sending Canada to the dressing room with a six-goal lead after scoring four times in two minutes and 40 seconds.
As good as the Canadians were in the first period, they were only half as good as the last time they opened a world championship; at the 2015 worlds in Buffalo, Canada scored 12 goals in the opening 15 minutes en route to a 17-0 win over Japan.
The offence slowed down in the second period, managing just five shots on goal, but Bridges made good on the first, jumping on a loose puck and going off the post and in past Deng for a 7-0 lead.
With the game well in hand midway through the third period, Westlake finished his hat trick off a gorgeous feed from Hickey, and McGregor went to his left hand to beat Deng to cap the scoring in the dying minutes.
Canadian goaltender Dominic Larocque (Quebec City, Que.) earned quite possibly the easiest shutout of his career; he faced just one shot through two periods, and needed to make just three saves in all.
Canada is right back to action Thursday (2 a.m. ET/11 p.m. PT), taking on Italy in the second of six preliminary-round games.
JASON LA ROSE, HOCKEY CANADA