“There’s a new culture in our team this season. We’re trying to walk the talk now. We don’t take any passengers on our team. Nobody’s taking a backseat ride in this tournament.”
Reigning Paralympic champions USA will take on archrivals and defending world champions Canada in Sunday’s (3 May) gold-medal game at 2:30pm (ET) at the 2015 IPC Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships A-Pool, which will be a rematch of the 2013 world title game.
Both Canada and the USA are undefeated so far with four wins apiece at the tournament, having beaten Russia and Norway, respectively in the semi-finals on Friday (1 May) at the HARBORCENTER in Buffalo, New York in the USA.
Canada already have three world titles to their name (2000, 2008, 2013), while the USA have won the title twice (2009, 2012). At the 2013 edition of the event in Goyang, South Korea, the Canadians beat the USA in the final by a score of 1-0, with now-retired Graeme Murray scoring the lone goal.
Based on the semi-final results, Russia will face Norway in the bronze-medal game, which will be played prior to the final.
CANADA 3, RUSSIA 2
Despite allowing their first two goals of these World Championships, Sochi 2014 bronze medallists, Canada, held on to defeat Sochi 2014 runners-up, Russia, in a closely contested semi-final match that showcased both teams’ speed from the early goings.
Ilia Volkov, the most valuable player at the Russian national championships this season, became the first skater to score on Canada in the tournament when he found the net on the power play at the 13:24 mark in the first period.
After Canada were held to just two shots on goal in the first frame, Torino 2006 Paralympic gold medallist Billy Bridges made his way down the ice with the puck to tie the game midway through the second period. Then, with 46.5 seconds left in the period, Bridges found his way through a scrum in front of the net to project the puck into the goal once again, this time with help from Brad Bowden. The score, which happened on a power play, went under video review but was confirmed as a goal to give Canada a one-goal advantage.
Seventeen seconds into the third period, two-time world champion defenceman Adam Dixon crashed the crease to score and increase Canada’s lead to 3-1. Halfway through the third, Vasilii Varlakov had a successful shot on net to pull Russia within one, but Corbin Watson did not let any more pucks past him after that, finishing the game with 10 saves.
“At the end of that game, we still had high energy, and I think there’s still more to come,” Bridges said. “There’s a new culture in our team this season. We’re trying to walk the talk now. We don’t take any passengers on our team. Nobody’s taking a backseat ride in this tournament.”
USA 6, NORWAY 0
The USA will be playing in their fourth consecutive gold-medal game at a World Championships after cruising past Norway in the latter of the two semi-final matches.
The host nation’s dynamic teenage duo stepped up early, as 16-year-old Brody Roybal found 17-year-old Declan Farmer in the slot for a power-play score at the 8:56 mark in the first period. War hero and team captain Josh Sweeny then tipped the puck in less than two minutes later to extend the host nation’s lead to two heading into the first break.
In the second, the USA’s Paul Schaus tallied a score early, assisted by Sweeney, and national team newcomer Josh Misiewicz scored after Buffalo’s own Adam Page nicely placed the puck in front of the net for him. Buffalo’s crowd then went wild as Page found the net himself nearly five minutes later to help the USA close out the period with a five-goal advantage.
Forty-six seconds into the final frame, Page notched another goal, this time on the power play with helpers from Dan McCoy and Misiewicz.
Norway’s Kjell Christian Hamar had 23 saves in the game, while the USA’s Steve Cash anchored his post between the pipes to record six saves in two periods before he was replaced by Kyle Huckaby, who fended off one shot in the third period.
“My teammates kept rolling and didn’t really stray from the game plan,” Cash said. “I just kept my focus. People ask me if I ever fall asleep back there, but I say I’m here to play games. Whether I get five shots, 20 or 30, I’m still always mentally prepared.”
Live coverage of all the games at the World Championships, along with results, statistics and ticket information can be found at Buffalo2015.com.
Up-to-date details of where games can be watched live nationally can be found at Buffalo2015.com.
IPC Ice Sledge Hockey will tweet live updates from on site in Buffalo from @IPCISH and is encouraging all fans to use the #Buffalo2015 hashtag when tweeting about the tournament.
Images from the Championships are available at www.Flickr.com/Photos/Paralympic. Media wishing to receive high-resolution images should contact Lucy.Dominy@paralympic.org.