The puck dropped on Tuesday (29 March) to mark the first ice sledge hockey Pan Pacific Championships in history. And to no surprise, Canada and the USA flexed their strengths in the region, each taking their opening games on day one in Buffalo, USA.
The 2015 World Championships A-Pool silver medallists Canada defeated South Korea 4-1 in the preliminary rounds Tuesday afternoon. Early goals from Kevin Sorley and Rob Armstrong got Canada off to a strong start with a 2-0 lead in the first period. Marc Dorion added to Canada’s lead at the 6:35 mark in the second.
“It’s a great start to the tournament,” said Dorion. “I think it speaks to the way that Canada plays – we played with speed, we played with tenacity and we never give up on that puck.”
South Korea found their way on the scoreboard thanks to Seung-Hwan Jung’s score.
South Korean goaltender Man-Gyun Yu kept the Canadians in check, defending 30 shots on goal and recording 26 saves.
However, Adam Dixon’s late goal in the third all but sealed the victory for Canada.
Later in the evening, the USA took the ice at the Harborcenter for the first time since winning the World Championships A-Pool almost one year ago, and the squad recorded a convincing victory, shutting out Team Pan Pacific 8-0.
The USA took advantage of an early penalty from Team Pan Pacific, with Josh Sweeney scoring on a power play in the first period. Team USA then closed the second period with the 5-0 lead, with Josh Pauls and Kevin McKee each having a pair of assists.
Team Pan Pacific – formed of players from Japan and other participating countries – struggled on the offense, managing five shots on goal compared to the USA’s 19. Kyle Huckaby defended the net for Pan Pacific, recording nine saves.
The USA’s Brody Roybal, Declan Farmer and Adam Page all finished the day with a pair of goals.
“We started with sloppy play in the beginning, but we came on strong in the second period,” said Farmer. “We kept pulling on the offence, tightening on the defence a bit, and we got the win. They were a tough team though.
“We want to finish the year strong and get a winning streak before the World Championships next year.”
Competition continues Wednesday (30 March), with South Korea facing Pan Pacific at 15:00 (EDT). The USA and Canada will follow at 19:00 (EDT) in the preliminary rounds.
The medal matches will take place on Saturday (2 April).
Complete results, along with livestream of the matches, can be found at the IPC Ice Sledge Hockey's website.