“I’m looking forward to playing Canada the most of any game, as obviously they’re our biggest rival and those games are always a ton of fun with good energy out there."
There is arguably no better rivalry in Para sport than Canada and USA in ice hockey.
The North American foes have combined to win six of the eight World Championship titles in the sport’s history. Both nations have three gold medals to their name, with Canada winning in 2000, 2008, and 2013, and the USA winning in 2009, 2012 and 2015. In both of the last two editions of the event, they have faced each other for gold.
The two nations will square off again on Monday (17 April) in the preliminary round of the 2017 World Para Ice Hockey Championships A-Pool in Gangneung, South Korea. Both head into the game undefeated in the tournament thus far – Canada with four wins and the USA with three.
“I’m looking forward to playing Canada the most of any game, as obviously they’re our biggest rival and those games are always a ton of fun with good energy out there,” said Brody Roybal, who ranks second in the US team with eight points in the tournament.
Canada and the USA have goal differentials of plus-35 and plus-24, respectively, halfway through the preliminary round of play in Gangneung.
The tournament’s top four point-getters are all from Canada. Adam Dixon (14), Billy Bridges (13), Liam Hickey (13), and Tyler McGregor (11) are the only players with double digits in points.
Ken Babey, who took Canada to the world-title game in his first season as head coach in 2015, has been particularly passionate about praising Dixon’s play in Gangneung.
“He gives us an offensive option from the back-end, and he can score any time,” Babey said. “Adam has consistently played well for our team offensively and leads the way. He creates so many opportunities for the ice on us, and we’re fortunate to have him the way he’s playing.”
Meanwhile, the USA’s starting line of Declan Farmer, Kevin McKee and Roybal has been stellar so far, with the three forwards combining for 11 goals of its 25 goals in three games. Farmer alone has seven goals, surpassing the US records for both goals at a single World Championships as well as career goals at the World Championships.
Farmer insisted the North American rivalry and the way both teams are playing in Gangneung will help show the next generation of Para athletes what is possible.
“I think our performances here have definitely helped the sport when kids back in the US or new players to the sport see the success we’ve had, and it drives them to want to be here, too,” Farmer said.
The puck drop between Canada and USA will take place at 15:00 KST (2:00 a.m. EDT) on Monday (17 April).
The 2017 World Para Ice Hockey Championships are taking place from 11-20 April in Gangneung 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, alongside statistics and results at www.Gangneung2017.com.