IPC Ice Sledge Hockey A Pool World Championships
25 March - 3 April

Czech and Canadian Captains to Battle for Bronze

Pavel Kubes of the Czech Republic and Greg Westlake of Canada, will face each other in Sunday's (1 April) bronze-medal game at the Ice Sledge Hockey Worlds. 01 Apr 2012
Pavel Kubes

Defenseman Pavel Kubes is the captain of the Czech Republic's Ice Sledge Hockey team.

ⒸAnita Hector

“It is a huge success for us. We came here to play in a semi-final and for a medal, not in the play-out games.”

The captains of the Czech and Canadian teams are certainly giving it their all at the 2012 International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships this week in Hamar, Norway.

Despite losing in the semi-finals to USA and Korea, respectively, Greg Westlake of Canada and Pavel Kubes of the Czech Republic are determined to leave the year’s biggest tournament with a medal when they play for bronze on Sunday (1 April) at 12:30 (CEST).

“How the tournament goes kind of depends on your last game,” Westlake said. “We’ve got to come back and we’ve got to have a good game once we get to that medal round.”

Kubes, who anchors the defense for the Czechs, echoed Westlake’s sentiments.

“I like to be involved in team games, so I’m feeling very happy here with my players and with the team,” Kubes said. “It is a huge success for us. We came here to play in a semi-final and for a medal, not in the play-out games.”

The two captains have experienced different outcomes at international tournaments in the past, though.

Canada came to Hamar as one of the favourites and has medalled at four of five World Championships and has a prize of every colour from the Paralympic Games.

A loss to rival USA in the semi-finals earlier this week dashed Canada’s hopes of 2012 gold, but the team is confident it can be resilient and still make its way to the podium.

“We haven’t lost to the Czechs before, but we hadn’t lost to the States (in regulation this year) either, so we’re going to take a day or two to recover,” Westlake said. “We want to win that bronze.”

Westlake has tallied two goals at the Championships thus far, helping out fellow forward Billy Bridges, who has scored twice and recorded three assists.

Corbin Watson and Benoit St-Amand have split the goalkeeping duties, combining for a save percentage of roughly 91 per cent.

None of those statistics seem to faze Kubes or his teammates, even if the Czechs have never medalled before on the international stage.

“We are trying to play the best,” Kubes stated confidently.

Czech Republic finished fifth at both the 2009 World Championships – which it hosted in Ostrava – and the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games.

With David Palat and Zdenek Krupicka leading the front line, Pavel anchoring the defense and Michal Vapenka keeping the puck out of the net, the Czechs have really started to make a breakthrough in Hamar.

They even shocked USA in the round-robin stage, defeating the Americans in a shootout, 2-1, to help win Group A.

Kubes is happy to see all of the team’s efforts produce results – the best he has seen since he started playing in 2004 after he saw a documentary about teammate Tomas Kvoch.

And even in the midst of all the World Championships hype, Kubes took a minute to talk about how he wants to help grow the sport following the tournament.

“I remember myself 10 years ago watching the documentary and trying the sport, and now look, I’m the captain of the team,” Kubes said.

“If there is anybody who would like to try this, I was in the same position 10 years ago, so I’m willing to help. I’d love to help.”

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