Veterans keep focus on semifinals in Para ice hockey

Canadian Paralympic Committee

March 10, 2022

Canada faces South Korea for berth in final


BEIJING – At the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games, it was almost a foregone conclusion that Canada and the U.S. would clash in the Para ice hockey final.

But in the semifinals, the Canadians got into penalty trouble and were upset by Japan 3-1 despite outshooting their opponents 20-11. The loss was so devastating that a crushed Team Canada dropped the bronze medal match 2-1 to Norway, despite beating the Norwegians 5-0 in the round robin.

Billy Bridges, Adam Dixon and Greg Westlake were on Team Canada in that tournament. It can be assumed they’ll give a fair warning to their younger teammates about not looking past South Korea, the defending bronze medallists, in Friday’s semifinal at the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games (12:05 p.m. local – 11:05 p.m. ET Thursday).

“Our ability to respond has to be there and I really feel this group has it in them,’’ said Bridges, competing at his sixth Paralympics. “It’s human nature to think ahead. (We are going to try) to just stay even-keeled and in the moment and make sure we win that game.”

After a 5-0 loss to the U.S. in its opener, Canada defeated South Korea 6-0 in round robin action earlier this week to advance directly to the semis. The Koreans played Wednesday in the quarterfinals and blanked Italy 4-0, its first win of the tournament.

Bridges says this Team Canada, silver medallists at the last two Games, has plenty of depth with established young veterans like Liam Hickey and James Dunn, who notched the hat trick in the game against the Koreans.

“Liam and James, I think I made the team before both of them were even born,’’ said Bridges, 37. ‘’It’s an honour to be able to play with these guys to see what they can do with the puck. My job is just to get it to them.

‘’Dunn showed his talent with his hat-trick, and Liam with his speed. We have so many guys of all ages who can contribute.’’

On the Korean side, they can’t wait to face Canada again.

“Even though we haven’t beaten Canada ever, we have strong determinations to defend against every attack,’’ said Jang Dong Shin, who scored twice in the win over Italy. “In the semifinal, our major task is to defend well.”

Through the Koreans’ first three games, goaltender Lee Jae-Woog has been the story. The goaltender made 26 stops in a tournament-opening loss to the Americans and was terrific against Canada in a 31-save effort.

‘’I’m really eager to win because we haven’t beaten them in the previous games,’’ said forward Jung Seung Hwan.

First-time Paralympian Zach Lavin though says Canada is ready for the final push to the gold.

“I am liking where we are at,’’ he said.

With files from CBC and Hockey Canada

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