MOOSE JAW, Sask. – Dominic Cozzolino and James Dunn scored two goals apiece as Canada blanked Czechia 5-0 in a semifinal Saturday at the 2023 World Para Ice Hockey Championships.
With the win, arch-rivals Canada and the U.S. will battle for gold on Sunday night at 7 p.m. local (9 p.m. ET). The game will be shown live at hockeycanada.ca.
The Canadians blasted out of the gate scoring four goals in the first period. It was quite a reversal from their preliminary round encounter which Canada won 2-1.
‘’It was big to have that first line start off really hot,’’ said defenceman Zach Lavin, named Canada’s Player of the Game. ‘’I like the path we are on. We are going to have a good rest tonight and flip the page for the next one.’’
In the first, Cozzolino opened the scoring with an unassisted goal at the 0:26 second mark; Dunn tallied twice in 18 seconds and Lavin fired a wrister in the top corner to put the hosts up 4-0 after 15 minutes.
‘’That start really flipped the script and put the pressure on the Czechs,’’ said Canada’s head coach Russ Herrington. ‘’After the first goal the Czechs responded with some good shifts but we were able to capitalize on our chances back-to-back to really blow it open.’’
Cozzolino notched his second of the game and team leading sixth of the tournament early in the third.
‘’We knew Canada would come out hard against us,’’ said Jakub Novotny, Czechia’s head coach. ‘’We tried to prepare our players but a couple of bad bounces it was 3-0. It was hard to catch the momentum again.’’
Three-time Paralympian Adam Dixon of Midland, Ont., surpassed the 250-point mark in his national team career with three assists in the game.
In the other semi, the U.S. defeated China 10-2. The Americans are the three-time defending world champs and have won gold at the last four Paralympic Games. This will be the sixth straight Canada-U.S. final at the worlds.
The Canadians are looking for their first world crown since 2015. The U.S. blanked Canada 3-0 in the preliminary round on Wednesday.
‘’When we’re practicing or in the gym we have that rivalry in the back of our mind,’’ said Lavin. ''We are going to have to take it up a notch but we’re very excited. That’s what we train for.’’
China, the Paralympic Games bronze medallists, face the Czechs in the third-place game.