Game Summary
Canada 4 - Italy 0


VANCOUVER – It was only fitting for a sledge hockey game that started at 10 a.m. local time that the Canadian team hit the snooze button for the first two periods.

Four years after thumping Italy by double digits at the Turin Paralympics, Canada led the Italians just 1-0 through two frames, before waking up and pouring it on late to notch a 4-0 win on Saturday.

 Game notes |

Canada thoroughly outhit and outchanced the Italian squad but couldn't put its pesky opponents away early. Goaltender Santino Stillitano made a number of spectacular saves and got some help from his best friend, as the Canadians rang multiple pucks off the post.

It wasn't until Greg Westlake scored the first of his two goals in the third period to make it 2-0 that the defending Paralympic gold medallists appeared to find their swagger.

“Once we got that second goal, I thought we loosened up a little bit and played a little bit better,” said Canadian coach Jeff Snyder. “But we seemed to be tight before that. Just couldn't get the guys to relax and play with confidence.”

Snyder said the crowd, which some Canadian players confessed was the largest and loudest they've played in front of, might have had a role in his team's slow start.

“There was a lot of nervous energy around the game,” Snyder said. “We thought we had them prepared for the kind of crowd that we got, but maybe they were a little bit nervous.

“I thought we were just kind of squeezing our sticks and not executing the way we normally do the first couple of periods. But I thought we were better in the third.”

No player seemed to be squeezing his stick tighter in the early going than Westlake.

The 23-year-old from Mississauga, Ont., had a number of glorious chances but couldn't quite light the lamp.

Stillitano made a brilliant glove save on the Canadian forward in the first period, and sprawled to make another great save on a shot from the slot in the second.

Westlake snuck free on a breakaway in the third period and made a beautiful deke, shifting the puck from his right stick to his left while trying to tuck it inside the far post.

But Stillitano was even better, lunging out to deny the Canuck and keep the score 1-0.

Westlake got his revenge a few minutes later, picking up a loose puck and rifling it into the top corner.

Westlake said afterward he wasn't worried the hockey gods were against him after his string of missed chances.

“I've had games where I'm completely snakebitten, had way more chances than that, haven't scored. I've had games where I've had pucks just bounce in off my sled,” he said.

“You just keep battling.”

Snyder called Westlake, who was not a member of the gold medal winning team in 2006, the best player on the ice Saturday.

“I think he kind of took the team on his shoulders there in the third period and said, ‘Hey look, we've got to win this game,’” he said.

“He's not afraid to take the team on his shoulders, he wants that responsibility. And I think he's emerging into that kind of player.”

Marc Dorion gave Canada a 1-0 lead in the first period when his centring pass banked off an Italian defender's skate and slid into the net.

Captain and Paralympic flagbearer Jean Labonte added a goal in the third period to make it 4-0.
Netminder Paul Rosen made just four saves in picking up the shutout.

The Canadian team will be back in action Sunday against Sweden.

Game Information/Renseignements sur le match
Event/Événement Paralympic Winter Games Location/Emplacement Vancouver, B.C.
Date Sat. Mar. 13, 2010 Arena/Aréna UBC Thunderbird Arena
Time/Heure 10:00 am PT Attendance/Assistance -,---
Round/Ronde Preliminary Game #/No du match 01

Box Score/Compte

Goals/Penalties - Buts/Pénalités
First Period/Première période

09:28 CAN Marc Dorion (Billy Bridges)

02:58 CAN Derek Whitson (Interference/Obstruction)
10:58 CAN Bench/Banc (Too Many Players/Trop du joueurs)
13:08 CAN Greg Westlake (Charging/Assaut)

Second Period/Deuxième période


01:05 ITA Florian Planker (Interference/Obstruction)
05:27 ITA Giuseppe Condello (T-boning/Charge en T)
08:48 CAN Ray Grassi (Elbowing/Donner du coude)
09:06 ITA Bruno Balossetti (Interference/Obstruction)

Third Period/Troisième période

04:50 CAN Greg Westlake (Adam Dixon, Jean Labonté)
08:48 CAN Greg Westlake (Brad Bowden)
09:18 CAN Jean Labonté

04:25 ITA Giuseppe Condello (Roughing/Rudesse)
13:23 ITA Werner Winkler (Charging/Assaut)

Goaltenders CAN Paul Rosen
Gardiens de but ITA Santino Stillitano
Shots on Goal Team 1 p 2 p 3 p Ttl
Shots on Goal CAN 4 2 10 16
Tirs au but ITA 1 2 1 4
Referee/Arbitre ---
Linesmen/Juges des lignes ---
For more information:
Adam Crockatt Manager, National Men's Teams | Responsable, équipe nationale masculine (hockey sur luge)