Hosts drop gold medal game to United States; Korea wins bronze medal
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. (Hockey Canada) – Canada’s Para ice hockey team finished with silver at the 2017 World Sledge Hockey Challenge after a 3-2 loss to the United States in the gold medal game Saturday night.
In the 11-year history of the tournament, Canada has now won five gold medals, five silver and one bronze.
“Our guys made a valiant effort. Any chances we had, we either missed or [U.S. goaltender Steve] Cash shut us down,” said Team Canada head coach, Ken Babey (Saskatoon, Sask.). “We just got off to a flat start and turned too many pucks over early in the game; it’s a tough thing to do when you’re playing a U.S. team that has good speed and fire power and that was the turning point.”
The United States had taken a three-goal lead before Adam Dixon (Midland, Ont.) connected with Tyler McGregor (Forest, Ont.) to capitalize on a two-man advantage and put Canada on the board midway through the second period.
Liam Hickey (St. John’s, N.L.) added a second Canadian goal off a McGregor set-up with 10 minutes to go in the third to aid in the comeback attempt. Dominic Larocque (Quebec City, Que.) finished with 11 saves in the Canadian goal.
“Anytime you put yourselves down three it’s tough to get back, especially against a team like that,” McGregor said. “We showed a bit of resilience trying to come back. We had a good third, but trying to come from behind the eight-ball like that is pretty tough. It’s frustrating because we know we’re better than that. We certainly have a lot of motivation to get as good as we can and continue building for Korea [and the Paralympic Winter Games].”
Earlier in the day, Korea doubled up Italy 6-3 in the bronze medal game, medalling for the second time in three years.
The four-team tournament provided edge-of-your-seat action for fans taking in 10 games over five days at MacLauchlan Arena. Team Canada immersed itself in the community with local school presentations, visiting the seniors’ active living centre, as well as meet-and-greets with minor hockey teams.
More than 2,800 school kids packed the arena throughout the week to cheer on the athletes through the local school progam. The World Sledge Hockey Challenge will also leave a lasting legacy in the area as proceeds from the event will go back into the community to be re-invested into the growth of sledge hockey.
The World Sledge Hockey Challenge is the latest stop on Team Canada’s road to PyeongChang and the 2018 Paralympics. The tournament follows the three-game series against Korea in Gangneung, South Korea last month. Action continues in February with a two-game series against the United States ahead of the Games.