Canada shut down its arch rivals USA, 4-1, for a record fourth gold medal and host nation South Korea snagged the bronze medal with a 2-0 win over Norway on Thursday (20 April) at the 2017 World Para Ice Hockey Championships A-Pool in Gangneung, South Korea.
Behind the hot hands of Tyler McGregor, who scored two goals in the final and a tournament-leading 12 goals, Canada shut down the USA to win its first world title since 2013.
“It’s hard to put into words right now. I’m so proud of every guy on the team, and it’s getting kind of emotional right now,” McGregor said on the ice after the game.
“It’s been a long four years. Our last World Championship was here in Korea, so obviously we’re doing something right here. I think we came out today on a mission. We knew what we wanted to do, and we executed that. This is one of the closest teams I’ve ever played on, and this is one of the best days of my life for sure.”
The victory for Canada came just three days after losing to the USA in the preliminary round and two years after losing to its biggest rivals in the last World Championship gold-medal game.
A fast-paced first period started with a stick-handling show from McGregor and big hits from the USA’s Brody Roybal before Brad Bowden started Canada’s scoring surge. The veteran defenceman bounced the puck off goaltender Steve Cash’s glove and it spiralled to the top right corner of the net for a score at the 12:17 mark.
Fifty-five seconds later, 19-year-old Liam Hickey lasered the puck into the net to register two consecutive scores on Cash.
McGregor gained more momentum in the second stanza, notching back-to-back scores in a matter of 17 seconds.
The first came off a series of passes from Billy Bridges and Bowden, and the second came off a helper from captain Greg Westlake.
The Canadian defence, anchored by Adam Dixon, shut down the US attack for the majority of the final frame aside from a power-play goal by Nikko Landeros with 2:58 remaining in the contest.
Dominic Larocque was credited with the win in net for the newly crowned gold medallists with 12 saves, while Cash fended off the puck 13 times for the runners-up.
The USA’s Declan Farmer was named the tournament’s Best Forward and Dixon was awarded Best Defenceman, as both tied for a tournament-leading 18 points. Sweden’s Ulf Nilsson was named Best Goalkeeper after registering an astounding 144 saves in the event.
Bronze-medal game: South Korea 3, Norway 2
Host nation South Korea defeated Norway to take the bronze medal at the World Championships, recording its second-highest finish ever in event history. The PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games hosts were powered to the podium by speedy forward Seung-Hwan Jung’s goal and assist, along with Man-Gyun Yu’s stellar play in net.
Fifth-place game: Italy 4, Sweden 0
Italy clinched the final automatic Paralympic qualification spot available at the tournament with a decisive 4-0 victory over Sweden in the fifth-place game.