“It was a very difficult start for us to the tournament, so we had to stick to our plan and work during the week to get the better results that we wanted.”
Canada and the USA will meet in the gold-medal game for the third consecutive time and host nation South Korea will play Norway for bronze on Thursday (20 April) at the 2017 World Para Ice Hockey Championships A-Pool in Gangneung, South Korea.
All four teams have now qualified for the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games by virtue of their guaranteed top-five finishes in the tournament. The final automatic Paralympic qualifier will be decided by the event’s fifth-place game, which will feature Italy and Sweden.
Norway 1, Italy 0
The final day of the preliminary round concluded on Wednesday (19 April) with Norway defeating Italy to earn a spot in the bronze-medal game for the second straight edition of the event.
Both teams finished with eight points in the standings, but Norway won the tiebreaker because of its victory from a game-winning goal from Jan Roger Klakegg.
“It was a very important game, and very important to get that first goal to get the game into our hands,” said Klakegg, who is competing in his fourth World Championships. “It was a very difficult start for us to the tournament, so we had to stick to our plan and work during the week to get the better results that we wanted.”
Although Norway had seven shots on goal during the opening period against Italy, neither team found the net during those 15 minutes of play.
In a rough second period that featured penalties from both sides, it was Klakegg who gave Norway the go-ahead score with 6:23 remaining off a pass from former Paralympic alpine skier Knut Andre Nordstoga.
Italy was hindered by four more penalties in the final frame and was unable to score, as forward Florian Planker led the effort with three shots on goal.
Norway’s Christian Kjell Hamar was the game-winning goaltender with seven saves, while Italy’s Gabriele Araudo fended off 13 of the 14 pucks that came his way.
USA 5, South Korea 0
The USA beat host nation South Korea, 5-0, to remain undefeated in the tournament and finish the preliminary round in first place with a perfect 18 points.
Forward Brody Roybal collected two scores in the game to make it eight for the tournament. Teenager Jack Wallace grabbed his first international goal in his debut season with the US national team, in addition to leading his team with five shots on goal.
“I’m feeling pretty good, as that goal was a long-time coming,” Wallace said. “Winning a world title tomorrow would be huge and would build so much momentum heading into the Paralympics and to our legacy even more.”
Roybal opened up the scoring just over two minutes into the contest when he fired the puck into the net on the power play, assisted by Nikko Landeros. With around five minutes left in the period, Declan Farmer doubled the USA’s lead with a shot that swept past South Korea’s defense. Twenty-two seconds later, former US Marine Luke McDermott, alone at the top of the crease, scored his first goal of the tournament to make it 3-0.
With nearly two minutes to go in the second period, Roybal buried a breakaway attempt while the US was short-handed after collecting a pass from Farmer.
Wallace then captured his first goal as a member of Team USA after rebounding a missed attempt from Landeros 1:34 into the third period; Landeros was credited with his second assist on the day.
The USA’s Steve Cash played the game’s entirety to grab his third shutout with nine saves. Jaewoong Lee and Man-Gyun Yu split the duties in net for the host nation, recording six and 10 saves, respectively.
Canada 9, Germany 0
Current world silver medallists Canada won their fifth game of the tournament, blanking Germany 9-0 to secure second place in the standings with 15 points and a spot in the gold-medal game. Canadian alternate captains Tyler McGregor and Adam Dixon both starred, with the former recording a hat trick and the latter registering three more points to add to his tournament-leading 18 points.
“My points have been a testament to our team game out there, as we’ve been able to move the puck around quite a bit,” Dixon said.
McGregor was the only player to find the net in the first period, registering two power-play goals 6:10 and 8:39 into the game, assisted by Dixon and Brad Bowden.
The 23-year-old quickly finished off his hat trick midway through the second stanza off a pretty pass from captain Greg Westlake. Then Dominic Cozzolino and Dixon added scores for Canada before the period’s end, both assisted by Liam Hickey, who competed at the Rio 2016 Paralympics in wheelchair basketball.
Cozzolino notched another tally and his fourth of the tournament just 35 seconds into the last period with a helper from former able-bodied ice hockey player Ben Delaney. In the game’s final five minutes, Corbyn Smith – making his World Championship debut – added two goals and forward Bryan Sholomicki found the net to bring Canada’s final tally to nine.
Dominic Larocque registered the win in net for Canada with a pair of saves. Klaus Brzoska stopped the puck 36 times for Germany, who finish seventh in the tournament.
The 2017 World Para Ice Hockey Championships are taking place from 11-20 April in Gangneung, South Korea, which is the ice sports venue city for the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games. The tournament also serves as the Paralympic Test Event, with the top five finishers automatically qualifying for the PyeongChang 2018 Games.
All games from the 2017 World Para Ice Hockey Championships are being streamed live at www.Gangneung2017.com, and live statistics and results are available at www.paralympic.org/gangneung-2107/schedule-results.
Photos will be made available for media to download throughout the tournament on the IPC’s Flickr account at www.Flickr.com/photos/paralympic.