VETERAN LINE LEADS CANADA TO HUGE WIN IN SLEDGE WORLDS OPENER
JASON LA ROSE
BUFFALO, N.Y. – Greg Westlake (Oakville, Ont.), Brad Bowden (Orton, Ont.) and Billy Bridges (Summerside, P.E.I.) combined for 22 points to lead Canada’s National Sledge Team to a 17-0 rout of Japan in the opening game for both Sunday at the 2015 IPC Sledge Hockey World Championship.
Westlake scored five times and added three assists, Bowden had a hat trick and five helpers, and Bridges chipped in with three goals and three assists.
The win is the second-largest for Canada since sledge hockey joined the Hockey Canada program in 2004; the Canadians blanked Japan 18-0 on Nov. 10, 2010 in Rochester, N.Y.
Kevin Sorley (Petersburg, Ont.), Tyler McGregor (Forest, Ont.), Marc Dorion (Bourget, Ont.), Adam Dixon (Midland, Ont.), Bryan Sholomicki (Winnipeg, Man.) and Ben Delaney Ottawa, Ont) also scored for the Canadians.
In all, 11 of Canada’s 13 skaters recorded points, and six had multi-point efforts.
Westlake, Bowden and Bridges have played together for most of the last decade, and the trio took control of the game early; Bowden found Westlake alone in front and the Canadian captain opened the scoring just 20 seconds after the puck dropped.
The top line scored the game’s first five goals (in the opening 5:35), and combined for 16 points alone in a dominating, 12-goal first period for the Canadians.
Canada never went more than 2:56 without a goal in the opening frame and eight different players found the back of the net, including the first-ever national team goals for Sorley and Sholomicki.
Westlake added his fourth of the game early in the second period, tapping in the rebound of a shot from Delaney, and then set up Bowden for his hat trick goal less than four minutes later.
Delaney, whose five points (one goal, four assists) made him the top-scoring Canadian outside of the big line, made it 15-0 after two periods, and Westlake and Bowden added goals for good measure in the third.
Corbin Watson (Kingsville, Ont.) was rarely tested in the Canadian net, needing to make just six saves, as Canada held a colossal 42-6 advantage in shots on goal.
The Canadians are back on the ice Monday at HarborCenter, when they meet long-time rival Norway in Group A action (1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT).