Canada will enter the Championships as the favourites after winning the World Sledge Hockey Challenge in Calgary, Canada at the beginning of last month.
Nagano, Japan will play host to the Japan Ice Sledge Hockey Championships beginning Monday (16 January), which will be an International Paralympic Committee (IPC) sanctioned event consisting of four teams.
Canada will enter the Championships as the favourites after winning the World Sledge Hockey Challenge in Calgary, Canada at the beginning of last month. The Canadians will be led by captain Greg Westlake, who was the top goal scorer in Calgary with eight goals, and Brad Bowden, who had nine assists. Benoit St-Amand and Corbin Watson will be tough to get the puck past in the net, and Adam Dixon will anchor a solid defensive line.
Host nation Japan did not win a single game against Canada, Norway or USA in Calgary, but will seek revenge on home ice in Nagano. Daisuke Uehara and Takayuki Endo will lead an emotionally charged Japanese squad that will showcase the duo of Makoto Majima and Shinobu Fukushima in the net.
This will be Korea’s first major international tournament this season for a team that finished sixth at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games. The team will be coached by Gea jun Park and led by forward Seung hwan Jung.
Norway will be without captain Thomas Jacobsen, who was injured at the World Sledge Hockey Challenge. Veteran forward Rolf Pedersen and defenseman Eskil Hagen, should be enough to give opponents a run for their money in Nagano, though. Forward Morten Vaernes has also come into his own during the last year, and is the team’s top goal scorer so far this season.
The schedule for the Championships is as follows:
Canada vs. Korea
Japan vs. Norway
Korea vs. Norway
Canada vs. Japan
Norway vs. Canada
Japan vs. Korea
Official team practices
Gold and bronze-medal games
For more information on Ice Sledge Hockey, please visit www.ipc-icesledgehockey.org/.