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Canada and USA to Meet in World Sledge Hockey Challenge Final

Norway will face Japan in bronze-medal game. 02 Dec 2011
Noritaka Ito and Taylor Chace battling for the puck.

Noritaka Ito #59 (JAP) battles for the puck against Taylor Chace #19 (USA) during the Ice Sledge Hockey Gold Medal Game at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games.

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Both Canada and USA dominated their respective semi-final games at the World Sledge Hockey Challenge on Thursday (1 December) in Calgary, Canada, setting up a highly anticipated gold-medal game between the two powerhouse North American nations.

The final game will take place at 16:00 (MT) on Saturday and will be shown live locally on TSN2.

Norway and Japan will meet for bronze at 12:00 (MT) on Saturday.

It will be the second time in the last three Challenges that Canada and USA will meet for gold. In their most recent finals meeting, the Americans took the top prize in 2009 with a 3-2 overtime victory.

In Thursday’s semi-finals, USA beat Norway, 7-2, and then Canada handled Japan, 9-2 in the nightcap.

Josh Pauls scored a hat trick to pace USA’s offense, while team captain Taylor Chace added a goal and an assist in the team’s win. Taylor Lipsett, Daniel McCoy and Rico Roman also chipped in with scores, while Steve Cash came up with 14 big saves in the net.

Morton Vaernes and Eskil Hagen scored the two goals for Norway, which could not repeat its feat from April’s World Sledge Hockey Challenge, when it knocked off the Americans in the semi-finals as the third-seeded team.

Vaernes’ goal early in the second period, just six seconds into a Norwegian power play, pulled the Scandinavian side even at 1-1 before Pauls, Chace and McCoy scored in a span of 5:19 to help the Americans pull away.

In the second semi-final, Canada’s Greg Westlake and Brad Bowden both finished with three goals and three assists – each assisting on all of the other’s goals. They joined teammate Adam Dixon and Norway’s Rolf Pedersen as the only players to record a half dozen points in a single World Sledge Hockey Challenge game.

Westlake finished off his hat trick late in the second period before setting up Bowden for his second and third goals just 14 seconds apart early in the third.

Kevin Rempel added a pair of goals and Kieran Block scored once.

Daisuke Uehara and Tomohiko Maruo scored the goals for Japan, which briefly pulled to within a goal at 2-1 before Westlake restored the two-goal advantage for good 40 seconds later.

Canada finished the preliminary round undefeated and will aim for its fourth gold medal at the Challenge in the finals. The Americans, whose only loss of the tournament thus far was to Canada, will be looking for their second gold.

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