Canadian Veteran Billy Bridges Made History In Loss To USA

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Canadian veteran Billy Bridges Photo Scott Grant/Canadian Paralympic Committee.

OSTRAVA, Czech Republic – Dominic Larocque (Quebec City, Que.) made 19 saves in a spectacular performance, but Canada’s National Para Hockey Team finished with silver at the 2019 IPC World Para Hockey Championship after a 3-2 overtime loss to the United States in the gold medal game on Saturday.

It’s the second time Canada has occupied the second step on the podium at worlds; it also took home silver in 2015, alongside its four world titles (2000, 2008, 2013, 2017) and bronze in 1996, 2009 and 2012.

Liam Hickey (St. John’s, N.L.) and Rob Armstrong (Erin, Ont.) scored the goals for the Canadians, who held a one-goal lead into the final four minutes before the Americans pulled even.

The first period belonged to Larocque; the Canadian goaltender kept the game scoreless despite his team being outshot 8-1, highlighted by a pair of point-blank stops off American star Declan Farmer.

Canada rewarded its netminder with a power-play goal early in the second. Tyler McGregor (Forest, Ont.) found Hickey down low, and he beat a diving Steve Cash for the 1-0 goal.

Josh Pauls needed just 90 seconds to tie the game for the U.S., dancing through the Canadian defence and beating Larocque, but a shot from Armstrong bounced off the blocker of Cash and up and over the American netminder to restore the Canadian advantage.

All told, the teams combined for three goals in four minutes and one second.

Billy Bridges (Summerside, P.E.I.) earned assists on both Canadian goals in the middle frame, giving him 400 career points (188 goals, 212 assists) since Hockey Canada took over the para hockey program in 2004.

Canada tried to ride its one-goal advantage to a second-straight world championship, but Farmer equalized with 3:26 to go, stick-handling his way to the net and banking a shot off the sled of Larocque and in.

The Canadian puck-stopper was terrific again early in overtime, but Brody Roybal snuck behind the defence off a scrambled face-off and tucked the game-winner past Larocque with his left hand to end it.

During the game, Larocque was named Top Goaltender, while Hickey earned Top Defenceman honours.

McGregor finished as Canada’s top scorer with 13 points (six goals, seven assists) in five games.

“It came down to a one-goal game and a play in a game and it went the wrong way against us, but our guys battled hard through the game tonight,” said head coach Ken Babey (Saskatoon, Sask.). “This is only our first step in the journey to Beijing in 2022, and we’ve come a long way this season, even from where we were a few months ago. All week we got better and prospects for the future are really looking good.”

 

Canadian veteran Billy Bridges (Summerside, P.E.I.) made history in the second period, tallying an assist on both Canadian goals to reach 400 points in his Team Canada career (188 goals, 212 assists).

 

Following the game, two Canadians were recognized by the tournament directorate – Larocque was named Top Goaltender, and Hickey earned Top Defenceman honours.

 

“It feels good,” Hickey said of being honoured. “I thought we had an awesome tournament as a team. I think this week was a big step forward in the process, focusing on Beijing in 2022, so I’m excited. Now we’re going to put a lot of work in this summer, and make sure we’re prepared for next season, starting with selection camp in September.”

 

“I thought our team had a great week,” said captain Tyler McGregor (Forest, Ont.), who led Canada in scoring with 13 points (six goals, seven assists). “The result obviously didn’t go the way we wanted, but we came into this world championship with a lot of new players and I thought we did a tremendous job, everyone contributed, the energy was great and we gained a lot of experience as a team.”

 

Canada came into the gold medal game with a 3-1 record; it was edged 3-1 by the United States in the tournament opener, and earned wins over Norway (14-2) and South Korea (4-0) to finish the preliminary round before blanking the Koreans 10-0 in the semifinals.