OTTAWA – Paralympian Zak Madell scored a spectacular point with two seconds remaining to give Alberta a dramatic 63-62 victory over Ontario to win the gold medal on Sunday at the wheelchair rugby national championships.
It was a fitting end to a remarkable game which featured many Canadian national team players who are among the world’s best. The crowd stayed on the edge of their seats witnessing the incredible passes, crashing rushes into the end zone, and metal wheelchairs smashing into each other – making a noise that can only be described as a two-car collision in front of your house.
Branden Troutman started the winning play with a court-long pass from his own end to Jared Funk. Funk was being covered by an Ontario defender but made a backward pass to Madell who punched in the decisive score.
After a two-year hiatus to focus on his studies, Madell showed the speed and strength that made him one of the world’s best players back in 2015 and 2016.
‘’It’s about time we get a different province winning,’’ said Madell. ‘’It was an incredibly clean game on both sides with few turnovers. I haven’t quite processed it yet, but it feels good. It’s been a whole team effort throughout the entire tournament and because of that we got the gold.’’
The victory ended a seven-year title run for Ontario. No more than two points separated the two teams for the full 32 minutes.
‘’We expected a close game as was the case in the round robin (Ontario won 57-53),’’ said Caldwell. ‘’Unfortunately, we were on the wrong end of it. We took care of the ball, didn’t turn it over. It was good effort for us, and it came down to the last possession.’’
In the bronze medal game, Quebec grabbed control for the start and sailed to a 65-55 win over the Ontario Lightning.
National team veteran Fabien Lavoie was the star scorer for the victors. Like his national team teammates here, he is ultimately preparing for the Parapan Am Games this August in Peru, where a Canadian victory would mean an early berth in the 2020 Paralympic Games.
‘’We’ve been training hard this season with the national team and I think the fitness showed here this week,’’ he said. ‘’I know I won’t have to play the full 32 minutes at the Games like I did here because we have such depth on offence in this country.’’
Team BC rounded out the top five teams at the tournament.