MOOSE JAW, Sask. – Czechia defeated Italy 4-0 in Friday’s first quarterfinal at the 2023 World Para Ice Hockey Championships to set up a rematch against Canada in the semifinal on Saturday night.
The game can be watched live on HockeyCanada.ca at 7 p.m. local ( 9 p.m. ET)
In the preliminary round, the Canadians, silver medallists at the Paralympic Games last year, defeated the Czechs 2-1 in a closer than anticipated game despite the hosts holding a 22-10 advantage in shots.
‘’The Czech game in the prelims wasn’t a surprise,’’ said Canadian defenceman Rob Armstrong of Ottawa, a two-time Paralympian. ‘’But we know we can perform better than that.
‘’We played them all through the year and maybe the games weren’t as close as that one but they are a really fast team, they are really strong and really young. So, their development is just going to improve.’’
Czechia’s coach Jakub Novotny was prudent in his post-game press conference about confronting the Canadians once again. Czechia is looking for its first ever world championship medal.
‘’I want to be a little bit cautious,’’ said Novotny. ‘’I think Canada has something more to offer and we’ll have to be even tougher against them, hit harder and try to get in their minds.’’
Canada concluded this week’s preliminary round with a 2-1 record for second place in Pool A. They received a bye to the semis along with the Americans who were unbeaten to top the pool.
On Monday Canada opened with a 15-1 victory over South Korea, beat the Czechs Tuesday and lost to the U.S., the Paralympic champions and defending world champions, 3-0.
With six newcomers on the squad, Canadian assistant coach Mike Foligno, a 15-year NHLer, is pleased with the team’s progress.
‘’This is an exciting time with the world championships held for the first time in Canada,’’ he said. ‘’We hope to do really well here and come out with the gold. That’s our main focus.’’
Dominic Cozzolino has led the Canadian squad with four goals and four assists for eight points and is second in tournament scoring. Tyler McGregor has seven points and Adam Dixon six. Dominic Larocque, at his seventh worlds, has been a standout in the Canadian net.
In Friday’s other quarterfinal, China defeated South Korea 7-2. The Chinese face the U.S. in Saturday’s other semi at 3 p.m. local (5 p.m. ET). China won the bronze at the 2022 Games.