Gangneung 2017: Top five playoff storylinesFind out who and what to watch on the final day of play at the 2017 World Para Ice Hockey Championships A-Pool. 19 Apr 2017
The schedule is set for the final day of games on Thursday (20 April) at the 2017 World Para Ice Hockey Championships A-Pool in Gangneung, South Korea.
The gold-medal game will feature Canada and the USA, and host nation South Korea will challenge Norway for bronze. Italy will face Sweden in the fifth-place game.
Here is a look at the top five storylines to watch on the final day of action.
Record up for grabs
Both Canada and the USA will be skating for their record fourth world titles in the sport. Canada won gold in 2000, 2008 and 2013, with their most recent first-place finish also coming in South Korea. The USA, also the reigning Paralympic champions, won gold in 2009, 2012 and 2015. Historically, the North American foes have met nine times in World Championship tournaments. The USA has won five of those games, including a 2-1 victory in Gangneung in preliminary round play.
The best of the best
Canada and the USA combined have the top eight scoring leaders at these World Championships. Defenceman Adam Dixon has racked up four goals and an astounding 14 assists for Canada, while his teammate Tyler McGregor is the squad’s leading forward with an impressive 10 goals and five assists. For the USA, it is the one-two punch of young forwards Declan Farmer and Brody Roybal who lead the red, white and blue on the Gangneung ice. Farmer has a tournament-leading 12 goals as well as five assists to his name, and Roybal has recorded eight goals and five assists.
Hopes of a nation
Less than one year out from hosting the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games, South Korea will be going for its second-ever medal on the world stage. South Korea won silver at the 2012 edition of the event, but finished in a disappointing seventh place the following year. Behind the speed of star forward Seung-Hwan Jung, and the strong goaltending tandem of Man-Gyun Yu and Jaewoong Lee, the host nation will look to steal bronze as a source of momentum leading up to the Paralympics.
On their Nor-way to a medal?
After starting the tournament in a rough patch by losing two of its first three games, Norway turned on it on strong to finish the preliminary round with two victories in its last three matches. Forward Audun Bakke has been a major surprise in the tournament with a team-leading four points to add to the talent that veteran defenceman Rolf Pedersen – who also has four points – always promises to provide. Norway won a medal at every World Championships from 1996-2009 but have not made the podium since, so the nation will be looking for its first piece of hardware in eight years.
The best of the rest
The fifth-place matchup between Italy and Sweden will determine the final automatic qualifier for the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympics. Italy have competed in Para ice hockey at every Paralympics since it hosted the Torino 2006 Games, while Sweden have participated in every Paralympics in the sport since it became a part of the Paralympic programme in 1994. If you are looking for scorers to watch, be sure to keep your eyes on Italian forward Sandro Kalegaris and Swedish forward Per Kasperi, whom are both likely to find the net.
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 alongside live statistics and results at www.Gangneung2017.com.