Canada 3 - Norway 0
CANADA’S SLEDGE HOCKEY TEAM
In the round robin portion of the Paralympics, Norway beat Canada 4-1. But the Canadian Sledge Hockey Team had a different end result in mind in the gold medal final on Saturday, in Turin. And they followed their plan to perfection, en route to Canada’s first ever gold medal in sledge hockey at the Paralympics.
In the first period, Canada was first on the board, much to the delight of the two sections of Canadian fans and families assembled at the Torino Esposizioni. Billy Bridges (Oakville, ON) took the puck off Norwegian defender Rolf Pederson, circled the net and found Bradley Bowden (Orton, ON) alone in front who scored on Canada’s first shot on goal, for an early lead at 2:52. The first period ended at 1-0 Canada.
Canada had a great defensive second period, holding Norway without a shot until the final minute. Late in the period, with Norway down a man due to a penalty, Bowden flew past a defender and made a drop pass to Greg Westlake (Oakville, ON) who found the net. The goal came at 14:29, and Canada headed to the dressing room with a 2-0 lead.
Norway came out storming in the third period, but goaltender Paul Rosen (Thornhill, ON) was up to the task. Rosen was at his best in the third, holding the Norwegians at bay time after time. Eventually, in the final moments, with Norway’s goaltender pulled for an extra attacker, Bridges ended all hopes of a comeback for the Norwegians with an empty net goal. Canada wins 3-0 and captures its first ever Paralympic gold medal in sledge hockey.
Earlier in the day, USA claimed bronze with a 4-2 win over Germany.
Canada’s Sledge Hockey Team will take part in the Closing Ceremonies at the 2006 Paralympic Winter Games on March 19th, and returns to Canada on March 21st.
Of note, team captain Todd Nicholson (Ottawa, ON) is one of three male finalists for the International Paralympic Committee Overcome Award, which recognizes one male and one female athlete during the Closing Ceremonies. Nicholson was also nominated in 2002.
Jean Labonté "It's the best moment of my life after the birth of my
son. I have been waiting for this moment for eight years. I dedicate my gold medal to my spouse
Isabelle who supported me all this time and made some sacrifices and also to my two-year-old son who misses
me. I wish they could be here tonight."
For more information:
Adam Crockatt Manager, National Men's Teams | Responsable, équipe nationale masculine (hockey sur luge)