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 two more 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 team captain Greg Westlake (Oakville, Ont.), who skates away from this year’s tournament with his fourth world championship gold medal. “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 team 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 experience since switching to goaltending. “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 at the 2017 IPC World Para Hockey Championship.
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.