Aki Alestalo helped Finland get off to a strong start, and the Finnish held that momentum all the way through, shutting out Belgium 7-0 at the 2016 IPC Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships C-Pool on Wednesday (24 February) in Novi Sad, Serbia.
With the victory, Finland bettered their chances of promotion into the B-Pool, which will allow them a shot at qualifying for PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games.
They will face Austria, who took Belgium/Netherlands 11-0, on Thursday morning (25 February).
Alestalo opened the game with a quick score just 1:54 minutes in, adding a second at the 8:44 mark. Jurki Konala tripled the Finnish score in the second stanza.
Entering the final period up 3-0, the Finnish put the game away by scoring four more goals. Two were from Alestalo, who finished with a game-high four goals and also added an assist.
Markku Hirvela finished with two assists, and was also rewarded by scoring the final goal of the game.
Belgian goaltender Franc Vandervelden fended off 12 Finnish shots on goals.
“Our performance [Wednesday] was good, but it was a surprise for me to be awarded as the best player of the game, but for sure I am so glad,” said Finland’s Lasse Rakainen who received the accolade. “[Thursday] is going to be different, we need to be harder, we will face much more one and one on the ice and it will be a wrestling, to win the game we all have to do our best.”
The Championships, which are running as part of the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games Actualising the Dream project, were held at the Spens Ice Hall.
Aside from the action on the ice, a series of educational workshops are taking place to aid players and coaches in their development as part of Actualising the Dream. Sessions for sport managers are also ongoing with the aim of boosting the growth of ice sledge hockey in each country.
On Wednesday, two sport manager’s workshops in ice sledge hockey and snow sport development and the Agitos Foundation’s Grant Support Programme will take place. Lectures for athletes and coaches will also feature.
Actualising the Dream includes a series of workshops and grants for equipment to improve winter sport around the world as part of the legacy of the next Paralympic Winter Games.
Day one review