GANGNEUNG, South Korea – Tyler McGregor (Forest, Ont.) had a natural hat trick to get the offence rolling, and Canada’s National Sledge Team finished the preliminary round with a 9-0 win over Germany on Wednesday at the 2017 IPC World Para Hockey Championship.
The victory sends Canada to the gold medal game for the third time in a row at worlds; it will face off against the United States in the final on Thursday (6 a.m. ET/3 a.m. PT).
Dominic Cozzolino (Mississauga, Ont.) and Corbyn Smith (Monkton, Ont.) added two goals apiece for the Canadians, while Adam Dixon (Midland, Ont.) and Bryan Sholomicki (Winnipeg, Man.) had one each.
Canada came out firing, racking up 10 shots in the first six minutes, but red-hot German goaltender Klaus Brzoska kept the game scoreless until McGregor roofed a shot on the power play at 6:10.
He added a second on another man advantage just over two minutes later, dangling his way to the net before rocketing a shot past Brzoska, and finished his hat trick six minutes into the second period thanks to a cheeky no-look feed from Greg Westlake (Oakville, Ont.).
Cozzolino got his name on the scoresheet late in the second period, burying the rebound of a Liam Hickey (St. John’s, N.L.) shot on the power play, and Dixon made it 5-0 in the last minute of the middle frame, showing off his quick hands in tight.
With the game well in hand after 30 minutes – they outshot Germany 33-2 through two periods – the Canadians added four more goals in the third.
Cozzolino potted his second just 35 seconds into the final stanza, tucking his shot around Brzoska, before Smith sandwiched his two goals around one from Sholomicki in the final four minutes.
He got his first by knocking in his own rebound at the 11-minute mark, and after Sholomicki added a fourth power-play goal Smith beat Brzoska at the buzzer to finish the festivities.
In all, Canada finished with a one-sided 45-2 advantage in shots on goal, and scored four times in five chances on the power play.
Dominic Larocque (Quebec City, Que.) earned his third shutout in four starts in the Canadian goal, turning away both German shots; in his four appearances, Canada allowed just 14 shots on goal.
“Solid effort from our team. We played smart, fast, and most importantly, as a team. The team has done a great job of sticking to the game plan through the world championship. Now we have an opportunity to play for a gold medal.”
– Head coach Ken Babey (Saskatoon, Sask.)
“It’s a great opportunity, and an honour, especially to play the U.S.A. which is our long-time rival; we just want to get out there and stick to our plan and to play our game. If we do that, we can pull out the win.”
– Sholomicki on the prospect of playing for gold Thursday
“It’s been crazy – every time you put on the jersey, it’s something special, but there’s something about the world championship that just makes it more special, and it’s always an honour. Seeing the season unfold from when I made the team – watching all of the guys and seeing how much work they put into our team – playing for gold is going to be awesome, and we’ll be doing our best to bring home the gold.”
– Smith on the experience so far at his first world championship and having the chance, in his rookie season on the team, to go for gold at worlds