Canada 12 - Italy 0
CANADA GETS SEMI-FINAL BERTH ON STRENGTH OF 12-0 WIN OVER ITALY
A sold-out and partisan Italian crowd awaited Canada as it took to the ice on Sunday for its second round robin game vs. Italy.
Buoyed by an energetic crowd that cheered from the opening of warmup, the Italian side started well, but eventually couldn’t contain Canada’s highpowered offence.
An early goal by Canada was disallowed as team captain Todd Nicholson (Ottawa, ON) found himself not only in the crease, but actually in the net behind the goaltender when the puck got across the line.
Nicholson redeemed himself by opening the scoring at 2:29, taking Jeremy Booker’s pass and finding an opening on the short side against Italian goaltender Danilo Bosio.
Exactly 41 seconds later, rookie Dany Verner (Bois-des-Filion) crossed the blueline and sent a laser past Bosio to make it 2-0.
After a number of near misses, Canada finally added a third marker at 11:00. Raymond Grassi’s shot from the point changed direction twice, finally tipped in by Verner, for his second goal of the game. Moments later, Marc Dorion’s shot rang off the post, as Dorion and Booker did a great job on the penalty kill with Murray off the ice for two minutes. Canada finished the first period with a 3-0 lead, and outshot Italy 11-0.
Billy Bridges (Guelph, ON) added his fourth of the tournament at 0:11 of the second frame, getting to a free puck ahead of an Italian defender and shooting the puck over the goaltender’s shoulder to make it 4-0. Defenceman Graeme Murray (Gravenhurst, ON) added a fifth Canadian goal at 2:36, sliding it under Bosio from in close. Bridges sent Canada to the dressing room with a 7-0 lead, by scoring twice in the span of 11 seconds in the final minute of the middle frame, completing his hat trick.
Canada continued to press, still looking for the goal differential advantage over Norway in case of a tie between the two top-rated teams in Group A when they meet on Tuesday.
And by the five minute mark, Canada had the 10 goal lead it needed. Bridges, with his fourth of the game, Greg Westlake (Oakville, ON) and Murray, with his second, had staked Canada to a 10-0 lead. Bridges added his fifth of the game, and eightth of the Paralympics, while veteran Jean Labonté (Aylmer, QC) closed out the scoring, giving Canada a 12-0 win over Italy, and a perfect 2-0 record in round robin play.
With the win, Canada has now assured itself of a spot in the semi-finals where it will face either Germany or the winner of the late Japan vs. USA game on Sunday.
Canada’s next opponents are the defending World Champions and top seeds from Norway. The round robin portion of the Paralympic sledge hockey competition will come to an end with the Canada vs. Norway game at 20:30 (local time)/ 14:30 (ET). This game will determine 1st and 2nd place in Group A and set up the semi-final match-ups for March 16th.
Bridges, with 11 points, on eight goals and three assists, leads all scorers at the Paralympics, while defenceman Mark Noot (Winterbourne, ON) leads all players with a +13 ranking, one ahead of teammates Bridges and Grassi.
Billy Bridges: "I was nervous before coming out. We have played in front
of some big crowds before but European crowds are much more enthusiastic."
For more information:
Adam Crockatt Manager, National Men's Teams | Responsable, équipe nationale masculine (hockey sur luge)