The USA won gold on its home ice, Canada claimed silver and Team World won bronze on Sunday (28 August) at the first-ever Para Ice Hockey Women’s World Challenge presented by Citi in Green Bay, USA.
“It’s probably the greatest feeling in the world right now. It’s as if we won the Stanley Cup,” said US captain Erica McKee, a Chicago native who has been playing at the national level for 13 years, waiting for a moment like this.
USA grab historic gold
The host nation went undefeated in Green Bay, winning all four of its games, including a 5-1 win over arch rival Canada in the gold-medal game.
St. Louis native Katie Ladlie opened up the gold-medal contest with two goals in the first four minutes in front of a nearly capacity crowd at the Cornerstone Community Center that erupted with ringing cowbells and chants of U-S-A after both of her goals.
A minute and a half later, a determined Raphaelle Tousignant powered through the crease for a top-shelf score, putting Canada on the board as she pumped her fist high in the air. Lera Doederlein and Catherine Faherty responded, both adding goals for the US before the end of the period to extend its lead to three. Kelsey DiClaudio was credited with three assists in the period.
Catherine Faherty added an insurance goal in the third period with under five minutes remaining to cap off the historic title for Team USA.
“I feel ecstatic. I feel amazing. It’s such an honour to represent my country right now,” said Ladlie after the game. “My teammates allowed me to make those two goals. It was really all about the teamwork.”
Canadian goaltender Tracey Arnold recorded 15 saves on the day, and USA's Hope Bevilhymer had three saves.
The US is now ranked No. 1 in the world in both men’s and women’s Para ice hockey, with Canada ranked No. 2 in both divisions.
“We have a pretty young team, so the future is bright in Canada,” said Tousignant, who led the tournament with five goals alongside teammate Aubree Clements.
“This was our first event so now that we got to see what it’d be like we can go back home and share our experience with people to better our team in the future.”
Team World skates to bronze
In the bronze-medal contest, Team World capped off its tournament with a decisive 5-0 victory over Great Britain to clinch the final spot on the podium.
Forward Ai Lin Zheng and defender Rebecca Mann scored within an 18-minute span of each other midway through the first frame to give Team World an early two-goal advantage, and Zheng found the net again with 58 seconds left in the period to extend the lead to three.
Defender Cindy Ouellet, a dual-sport athlete in wheelchair basketball, added a goal for Team World in the second stanza and Mann added an insurance goal in the third on a breakaway.
British goaltender Nicole Jodi Hill, a 2012 Paralympian in sitting volleyball, racked up seven saves on the day, while Elisabeth Bisaillon and Hope Magelky split the goaltending duties for Team World, combining for three saves.
With two wins in four games, the 13 players on Team World representing seven different nations were ecstatic to medal only five days after first meeting each other.
“With every game, I’ve felt more confident and learned more and more. There is more to learn, but that was awesome and I enjoyed every second on the ice,” said Latvian forward Dina Grinberga, who had an assist in the game and has been the heart of the team in Green Bay.
“This was super encouraging, and we all joined together because a lot of us don’t have home teams, so we came together because we wanted to be here so badly.”
The Para Ice Hockey Women’s World Challenge served as a major stepping stone on the road to an eventual Women’s World Championship, with the ultimate goal of expanding female participation in Para ice hockey worldwide and adding it to the Paralympic Winter Games programme.
The event was sponsored by Citi as part of the IPC’s new PARA SPORT grassroots to high performance programme, which aims to change the narrative around people with disabilities and provide Para athletes and their member organisations with a platform to drive social progress.
More information about the teams and complete results can be found on the Green Bay 2022 microsite. Photos from the event are available for editorial use on the IPC’s Flickr page.