Canada posts 3-1 loss to USA in Para ice hockey worlds opener

Canadian Paralympic Committee

April 27, 2019

Canada has two remaining preliminary games at the world championships

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OSTRAVA – When Canada and the United States face off in hockey, a grind-it-out battle is to be expected.

This was the case on Saturday, as the two nations opened their respective 2019 World Para Ice Hockey Championships campaigns against each other in Ostrava, Czech Republic. 

In a duel between the defending world champion (Canada) and reigning Paralympic gold medallists (USA), it was the Americans who earned early bragging rights with a 3-1 victory.

After a nil-nil first period, Canadian veteran Greg Westlake opened the scoring just two minutes into the second, with a left-handed shot on a dish from the end boards from Zach Lavin. For Lavin, it was his first time on the scoresheet in his debut world championships appearance. 

“It was a great pass by Lavin; it was the first game we’ve played together, so it was nice to get some chemistry right out of the gate,” said Westlake. “Hockey is a funny game. I lost that draw pretty clean, and everyone in there fixed it up for me, so it’s nice to build some confidence.”

However, USA answered not once, but twice in the same period. First, the Canadians got caught on the power play as American Declan Farmer slipped by the defence to tie it up on a shorthanded goal. 

Two minutes later, Canada’s rival took the lead on a goal from Noah Grove. 

Ultimately, Canada struggled to find its offense throughout the game. A last-second empty netter gave USA its third goal. 

Westlake was named best player of the game for Canada, while netminder Dominic Larocque made 11 saves, including a few huge stops in the third period.  

“We had a really good first period – we started well,” said head coach Ken Babey. “We made some mistakes in the second that cost us the momentum we had built up in the first period. And I thought we had not too bad a third period, but we’ve got to fix the mistakes that we made in the second period, and if we do that we’ll be a better team moving forward.”

Canada has two remaining preliminary games at the world championships, the biggest tournament in the sport outside of the Paralympic Games. The squad will suit up against Norway at 7 a.m. ET on Sunday and against South Korea at 7 a.m. ET on Tuesday. 

The top two teams in their group will advance directly to the semifinals, scheduled for Friday May 3 while the bottom two countries will advance to the quarter-finals on Wednesday May 1. 

All of Canada’s games will be available to watch via live on the Canadian Paralympic Committee Facebook page, as well as the CBC Sports and Radio-Canada streaming services. 

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