GANGNEUNG, South Korea – Tyler McGregor (Forest, Ont.) opened the scoring late in the first period, but Canada’s National Sledge Team came up a goal short in a 2-1 loss to the United States on Monday at the 2017 IPC World Para Hockey Championship.
The defeat is the first for the Canadians, who fell into a first-place tie with the Americans at 12 points, although the unbeaten U.S. has played one game less than Canada.
Early American penalty trouble meant Canada had the run of play in the first period, outshooting the U.S. 5-1 and taking a 1-0 lead when McGregor jumped all over the rebound of an Adam Dixon (Midland, Ont.) point shot and beat goaltender Steve Cash with just 91 seconds to go in the opening frame.
The U.S. got that back on their first power play chance, with Nikko Landeros circling the net and banking his shot in off Canadian netminder Dominic Larocque (Quebec City, Que.) at 6:06 of the second period.
The goal was the first allowed by the Canadians in the tournament (they had outscored their opponents 36-0 prior to the Landeros marker) and ended their shutout streak at just over 206 minutes.
Declan Farmer added the game-winner for the Americans less than three minutes later, splitting the Canadian defence before going under his sled to his right hand to beat Larocque.
The Canadian offence was held in check from there, although McGregor and Billy Bridges (Summerside, P.E.I.) both had multiple point-blank chances to tie the game late; Canada directed four of its five third-period shots towards Cash in the final three minutes.
Despite the loss, Canada finished with a 12-8 advantage in shots on goal.
“It was a good game, very physical and high-paced. We didn’t capitalize on our chances. We will learn from this and move forward to our next game.”
– Head coach Ken Babey (Saskatoon, Sask.)
“It’s a bitter feeling; we got off to a good start again, but we just have to find a way to hold the lead and continue to dictate the pace of the game. Fortunately for us, we still have another round-robin game to play, and we’ll be ready for them in the [playoff round]. The thing for us [to take away] is playing three solid periods – 45 straight minutes – of hard, hard hockey, and I think we’ll be fine.”
– McGregor on dropping their first game and what to take away from it
“We still have an opportunity to come out hard against Germany and win that game, and still put ourselves in a good position to regroup and face [the U.S.] again in the gold-medal match. We’re facing a world champion, undefeated this year, and Paralympic champion – we have to bring our A game to face these guys, and tonight we didn’t do it. It’s tough to lose, but I’m still so excited to see how the guys are playing and the progress that we’ve made, because I know that once we execute the game plan the way that we can do it, we can be very successful.”
– Canada’s National Sledge Team veteran Billy Bridges (Summerside, P.E.I.), on Monday’s game against the U.S. and the team’s opportunity for success
The Canadians will close out their preliminary round schedule on Tuesday night, taking on Germany (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT) with a chance to clinch a spot in the gold medal game.