The 2019 Canadian Tire Para Hockey Cup that gets underway on Sunday (1 December) at Paradise, Newfoundland will see hosts Canada, Czech Republic, Russia and USA vying for top honours.
Taking place at the Paradise Double Ice Complex, the teams will each play another once in the preliminary round, which will be followed by the semifinals on 5 December and the gold and bronze-medal games on 7 December.
Reigning world champions US enter the tournament as five-time defending champions. Last year, Team USA earned its fifth consecutive title in the event and seventh overall in the tournament’s 12-year history.
Earlier this year at the World Championships A-Pool, the US beat Canada in an overtime thriller in the gold-medal game to capture its record-tying fourth world title.
Fifteen of the players from that world-title winning roster return, including the power forward duo of Declan Farmer and Brody Roybal, who combined for 11 goals at the World Championships.
Rising star Jack Wallace will be back as well; the biomedical engineering student made a name for himself with five goals in the US’ semifinal victory at Worlds.
Canada will be looking for its sixth gold medal at the tournament, but first since 2013. It has never failed to medal, winning five gold medals (2007, 2008, April 2011, November 2011, 2013), six silvers (2009, 2012, January 2016, December 2016, 2017, 2018) and one bronze (2015).
Leading the way for Canada will be defenceman Liam Hickey, a Newfoundland native who will be playing a major international tournament in his home province for the first time.
Hickey, a 21-year-old dual sport athlete who also plays wheelchair basketball, led all defenceman at this year’s World Championships with eight goals. He’ll be joined on the ice by veteran forwards Tyler McGregor, Billy Bridges and Greg Westlake.
The Czech Republic is looking to build off the momentum from hosting the World Championships and its best-ever fourth-place finish in front of tens of thousands of fans.
Led by one of the most respected para ice hockey coaches in the world, Jiri Briza, on the ice the Czechs will look to forward Michal Geier to carry the weight after being named Most Valuable Player at the World Championships. Veteran goaltender Michal Vapenka will aim to hold down the fort in net.
Russia, meanwhile, are coming off a gold-medal performance at the World Championships B-Pool just a week ago. The Russians won all five of their games at the event, conceding just one goal in the entire tournament, and were led by Most Valuable Player Dimitry Lisov.
Previously, Russia had last won a medal on the international stage when it finished with bronze at the 2015 World Championships A-Pool.
All games will be streamed live online at HockeyCanada.ca with the exception of the championship game which will be broadcast on TSN.
Canadian Tire Para Hockey Cup Schedule
Sunday, 1 December
12:00 NST: Russia vs. USA
17:00 NST: Canada vs. Czech Republic
Monday, 2 December
12:00 NST: USA vs. Czech Republic
19:00 NST: Russia vs. Canada
Wednesday, 4 December
12:00 NST: Czech Republic vs. Russia
19:00 NST: USA vs. Canada
Thursday, 5 December
12:00 NST: Semifinal 1
19:00 NST: Semifinal 2
Saturday, 7 December
12:00 NST: Bronze-medal game
18:00 NST: Gold-medal game