GANGNEUNG, South Korea –
Canada’s National Sledge Team will return to Canada with golden memories of
the 2017 IPC World Para Hockey Championship, having defeated the United
States 4-1 to become world champions once again.
“This is an outstanding group of young men, and I’m very proud of our
team,” said head coach Ken Babey (Saskatoon, Sask.). “We played smart,
fast, and unselfish – the Canadian Way. We took hits to make plays and
stuck to the game plan.”
Brad Bowden (Orton, Ont.) and Liam Hickey (St. John’s, N.L.) scored within
less than one minute of each other in the dying minutes of the first period
to open up the scoring, and Tyler McGregor (Forest, Ont.) added goals 13 seconds apart for the red-and-white in the second frame. Nikko
Landeros of the United States got one past Dominic Larocque (Quebec City,
Que.) at 12:02 of the third period, but the American rally came too late
and Canada earned its fourth gold medal in event history.
“When I think about this team and what it represents, it’s hard work. We
all got challenged after a third-place finish in Sochi, and then
disappointing game after disappointing game – tonight was the final
reward,” said captain Greg Westlake (Oakville, Ont.), who has been part of all four world championship-winning teams.
“When I think about this team 10, 20 years down the road, I’ll remember
just how hard we worked in the build-up to tonight, and how we went out and
executed. It’s really special and every single guy on the team should be
really proud of everything they’ve done. As a group, we said this is our
night – we’re not taking no for an answer, and it’s really fun to be a part
of a group that got on the same page [to go out and win].”
Bowden assisted on both McGregor goals, joining fellow veteran Billy
Bridges (Summerside, P.E.I.) – who notched three assists in the game – as
the Canadians’ point-leaders in the final. Larocque made 12 saves for the
win, with Canada outshooting the Americans 17-13.
“This is an incredible experience,” said Larocque of his first world
championship since switching from forward to goaltender. “To be able to go
for gold in the final against the United States has been my dream for the
last three years. And to have a chance to bring back gold as a world
champion for the second time makes me so proud – it’s incredible.”
Adam Dixon (Midland, Ont.) was named the tournament’s Best Defenceman.
Dixon recorded 18 points – four goals, 14 assists – in seven games.
Earlier on Thursday, host Korea defeated Norway 3-2 in the bronze-medal
game. Italy beat Sweden to finish fifth at the tournament, qualifying for
the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games.
Canada’s National Sledge Team
fans have until 5 p.m. ET on Friday, April 21, to secure a Team Canada
jersey signed by this year’s world champions.
Five autographed jerseys
are up for bid on eBay, with
all proceeds going back to the Hockey Canada Foundation to support the
growth of hockey across the country.
Previously known as the IPC Sledge Hockey World Championship, Canada’s win
puts the nation in the event record book with four gold medals; before
Thursday’s final, Canada and the U.S. were tied at three apiece.
Since its introduction in 1996, the tournament has been held nine times
(1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2017). Canada has medaled
eight times, winning four gold medals (2000, 2008, 2013, 2017), one silver
(2015), and three bronze (1996, 2009, 2012).
For more information on Hockey Canada and the National Sledge Team, please
or follow along via social media on Facebook, Twitter, and Twitter.com/HC_Sledge.