CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. (Hockey Canada)– Liam Hickey (St. John’s, N.L.) scored a hat trick within the first 20 minutes, leading Canada’s Para ice hockey team to an 8-0 semifinal win over South Korea on Thursday and a spot in the gold medal game at the 2017 World Sledge Hockey Challenge.
The Canadians will face off against the United States for gold on Saturday afternoon (4 p.m. AT), one win away from their sixth title at the tournament but first since 2013. TSN and RDS, the official broadcasters of Hockey Canada, will air the gold-medal game on Saturday, Dec. 9; please check local listings for details.
Antoine Lehoux (Thetford Mines, Que.) added his first international goal for the Canadians, James Dunn (Wallacetown, Ont.) scored twice, and Greg Westlake (Oakville, Ont.) and Bryan Sholomicki (Winnipeg, Man.) also found the scoresheet
''I'm really excited about my first goal,'' Lehoux told Sportcom. ''It's quite emotional, I've been waiting for it for a long time.''
Dunn was named the Player of the Game.
“We played well as a team, right from the first shift to the end of the game,'' he said. ''I feel pretty great, we all played well together and it was fun. It was really exciting to score two goals. I think we just focused a lot on defence and putting that first in tonight’s game. I think similar to this game, [the key to the gold medal game] is just focusing on our defence and overall game. Take it as we normally do for games, get lots of rest, recover and come out fine. I’m feeling proud to represent my country and it’s just an honour to play.”
Hickey got the offence going less than six minutes in on a delayed Korean penalty, going to the net to poke the rebound of a Billy Bridges (Summerside, P.E.I.) shot past goaltender Man Gyun Yu.
Lehoux made it 2-0 at 12:40, beating Yu with a quick shot from the slot after hard work by Tyrone Henry (Ottawa, Ont.), and Hickey struck again just 12 seconds after that to put Canada up three after 15 minutes.
He finished his hat trick early in the second period, swinging out from behind the net and going low on Yu.
Westlake added a fifth goal at 6:36, wiring a shot past the glove of Yu after being left all alone in the slot, and Sholomicki jammed in a loose puck in the crease to make it 6-0 through two.
Dunn converted a breakaway late in a penalty-filled third period before roofing a shorthanded marker just over two minutes later to finish the scoring.
With the loss, the Koreans will take on Italy in the bronze medal game Saturday (1 p.m. AT).