Canada escaped with a 2-0 victory over hosts South Korea on Saturday (15 April) to keep its perfect record intact through four days of play at the 2017 World Para Ice Hockey Championships in Gangneung, South Korea.
The three-time world champions now lead the standings with 12 points from four games heading into the tournament’s rest day, followed by the USA with nine points and South Korea with six, both of whom have played just three games.
Canada has yet to concede a goal in the tournament, as Corbin Watson fended off the puck five times against South Korea whilst recording his 26th career shutout, which moves him past 2006 Paralympic champion netminder Paul Rosen for the most shutouts in team history.
The first period of the matchup was full of high-pressure situations. South Korea’s first successful shot on net by Jong-Kyung Lee with 4:55 to go in the frame was immediately ruled a no goal. It was because his teammate was in the crease at the time, causing interference.
With 26.5 seconds remaining in the period, Canada’s alternate captain Tyler McGregor connected for a score on a no-look pass from four-time Paralympian Billy Bridges to give his team the early 1-0 lead.
Dominic Cozzolino, making his World Championship debut for Canada at 22, scored on an open net with nine seconds remaining in the second period, assisted by Brad Bowden and McGregor.
Neither team found the net in the third period, keeping it a low-scoring affair.
South Korea’s Mang-yun Yu recorded 30 saves on the day, playing all 45 minutes in the game.
Norway 6-1 Sweden
Two-time Paralympic medallist Lloyd Remi Pallander Solberg recorded a hat-trick in just 13 minutes of ice time to help drive Norway to a 6-1 decision over rivals Sweden, the team’s first regulation win in Gangneung.
“It was amazing to get the hat-trick,” Solberg said. “I feel great, but it was all of us boys doing it together. It’s a team sport, so it didn’t matter which of us got the goals because it was a team victory.
“We had a little bit of a problem with our play in the start of this tournament, but we were able to fix that out here tonight.”
Norwegian forward Ola Oiseth, who returned to play after being carted off the ice the night prior with an injury, doubled his team’s lead 1:26 into the second stanza with a helper from Audun Bakke.
Sweden’s Rasmus Lundgren, known as the youngest athlete to compete at the Torino 2006 Paralympics, had perhaps the most impressive shot of the day a few minutes later. The 25 year old powered the puck from nearly the neutral zone all the way into the top of the net.
But Solberg scored twice more in the final six minutes of the period to cap off his hat-trick and push Norway’s lead to three.
In the third period, 17-year-old Emil Vatne and dual-sport athlete Thomas Jacobsen both found the net to provide insurance for Norway.
Norway’s Kjell Christian Hamar was awarded the win in net with nine saves, whilst Sweden’s Ulf Nilsson blocked the puck 15 times.
USA 9-0 Germany
The USA remained undefeated in the tournament with a 9-0 victory over Germany as Paul Schaus scored twice, Noah Grove tallied his first-ever international goal and Bo Reichenbach registered a shutout in his first World Championship start.
Germany shut down a flurry of US scoring opportunities to open the game before Declan Farmer collected a loose puck to score his seventh goal of the event with 9:53 to go in the first period. With the score, Farmer set another US record, this one for most goals by a US player in a single World Championships.
Paul Schaus, who lost his legs while serving in the US Marine Corps in Afghanistan, then redirected a pass from Josh Pauls for a score. Brody Roybal found the net, too, putting the USA up 3-0 at the first break.
Adam Page, Schaus and Pauls all added scores in the second stanza to double the lead for the defending world and Paralympic champions, as the US defense did not allow a single shot on goal during the period.
Two-time world champion Kevin McKee recorded his first score of the tournament 3:21 into the third period, just before 17-year-old Noah Grove scored his first-ever goal as a member of Team USA when he tucked a shot under the crossbar.
“It felt really amazing, but I wish Coach Sauer were here to see it,” Grove said afterwards, referring to Team USA’s coach Jeff Sauer who passed away in February. “It was really exciting, though. I still can’t believe it.”
Captain Andy Yohe, who has come back from retirement twice now, closed out the scoring for the USA.
Reichenbach finished the day with seven saves, whilst Klaus Brzoska stopped the puck 38 times for Germany.
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/gangnueung-2107/schedule-results.
Photos will be made available for media to download throughout the tournament on the IPC’s Flickr account at www.Flicker.com/photos/paralympic.