Zach Lavin overcomes every challenge to be Team Canada stalwart

Canadian Paralympic Committee

May 30, 2023

Helps Canada defeat South Korea in its opening game at world championships


MOOSE JAW, Sask. – Chris Cederstrand is a name known mainly in the inner circles of Canadian Para sport but it’s the first name that Canadian Para ice hockey player Zach Lavin mentions in his comeback from an injury that changed his world.

The 25-year-old Lavin is at the 2023 World Para Ice Hockey Championships which started Sunday in Moose Jaw. Canada won its first preliminary round game 15-1 over South Korea on Monday and plays tonight at 7 p.m. local (9 p.m. ET) against Czechia. The game can be watched live on

“My first day after six months of physical rehabilitation I was at a GoodLife Fitness and I saw Chris Cederstrand there,” recalled Lavin, who added a goal and three assists in Monday’s opening victory. “I noticed the leg prosthetic and the fact he was very motivated and driven. I started a conversation with him, and he ended up driving me to the ice that day.”

Originally from Essex, Ont., Lavin moved from Ontario to Alberta at age 19. In February 2015, he got lost on hiking trail in Kananaskis and nearly froze to death. He was found three days later but severe frostbite required both legs to be amputated below the knee.

‘’On the ice I saw Chris buzzing around the rink knocking shots off the cross bar. I said to myself ‘this looks like a lot of fun’ so pretty much immediately I was lucky to find a good connection and a good mentor.’’

Cederstrand was also on the national team in the mid-2010s and has worked tirelessly since then to help people with a disability get into sport, including kids. Cederstrand was recently recruited for CBC’s Canada’s Ultimate Challenge, where he was the only one with a physical disability and the first above-knee amputee in Canada to compete on a reality show.

Before his accident, Lavin was an avid sports enthusiast, but hockey wasn’t on the long list.

‘’It was pretty much the only sport I didn’t play,’’ he said after reeling off a stream of sports such as athletics, volleyball, wrestling, and more.

With that multi-sport background Lavin improved quickly and his name was whittled down to the last 20 for the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games team. He just missed the cut with 17 players travelling to South Korea. Since then he has been a Team Canada stalwart as a member of the 2019, 2021, and 2023 world championships teams and the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games squad.

After a great experience in Beijing, playing alongside such Para ice hockey legends as Greg Westlake and Billy Bridges, Lavin is entering a new phase in his national team experience.

‘’The first year after a Games is always a bit of a rebuilding period,’’ he said. ‘’We still have our very skilled vets leading the way but we are very excited about the new players who have shown a lot of skill and potential.’’

With six first-time world championship players on the squad for Moose Jaw, Lavin has changed position from forward to defence.

‘’That’s been a whole new world for me,’’ said Lavin. ‘’I’m dialing that in and have worked on different skills. You have to be a lot smarter on defence, you can’t be pinching too much and get too excited on the rush.’’

Lavin has clearly shown he won’t back down from any challenge.

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