Moose Jaw 2023: Canada to battle USA for world title

Teams meet in the A-Pool Worlds final for the sixth consecutive time, China and Czechia play for bronze and their first-ever podium on Sunday 04 Jun 2023
Two USA Para ice hockey players celebrating
USA beat China 10-2 to remain the only unbeaten team at Moose Jaw 2023 ahead of Sunday's final against Canada
ⒸErica Perreaux / Hockey Canada Images / WPIH
By World Para Ice Hockey

Hosts Canada will face Paralympic and world champions USA in the highly anticipated final of the Moose Jaw 2023 World Para Ice Hockey Championships A-Pool on Sunday (4 June).

It will be the sixth consecutive A-Pool Worlds final between the two North American arch-rivals and the first to take place on Canadian soil. The host nation will be looking for their fifth world title, and first since 2017, while the United States are in search for the sixth World Championships trophy and third in a row.

Both teams already clashed in the 2023 Worlds with Canada falling 3-0 to their hockey foes in the preliminary round.

Sunday’s bronze medal game will see history being made as China and Czechia will play for their first-ever podium finish in the World Championships A-Pool.

Canada 5, Czechia 0

Canada got the job done in the semi-final defeating Czechia 5-0 in front of the home crowd at the Moose Jaw Events Centre on Saturday.  

Dominic Cozzolino opened the scoring only 25 seconds into the game. It set the tone for a dominant first period which sent away any doubts the hosts would face another close game as in the 2-1 narrow round robin win over the Czechs just four days earlier.  

James Dunn gave Canada a 2-0 lead with a power-play goal before increasing the lead just 18 seconds later.

Zach Lavin scored Canada's fourth goal of the opening frame, and Cozzolino completed the scoring early in the third period.

Adam Dixon collected three assists against the Czechs, while captain Tyler McGregor picked up a pair.

Dominic Larocque turned away 11 shots for Canada, while Martin Kudela had 19 saves for Czechia.

“That was big, the first line started the game hot and had a lot of momentum, but we definitely had to battle through and get to our defensive structure to pull this one off,” said forward Lavin. “We still stayed defensively strong the whole game and there were some moments where we lost our touch there, but we have a young group, we’re on a good path and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

USA 10, China 2

Hat-tricks from Declan Farmer and Brody Roybal paved the way for another comfortably victory for the defending champions as USA thumped China 10-2 in Moose Jaw to book a ticket to the Sunday’s final. 

The United States took a 1-0 lead just 55 seconds into the game, when Ben Musselman rifled a wrist shot from the point for his first goal of the tournament with an assist from Jack Wallace. 

Malik Jones extended the U.S. lead less than two minutes later following a pass from Declan Farmer. Laureus Awards nominee Farmer gave his team a three-goal lead before China responded with Li Hong Guan to make it 3-1.

USA answered right back with another tally shortly before the end of the period, when Josh Pauls fed Jones for his second goal of the game. The assist was the 100th of Pauls’ career, making him just the third player in Team USA history to reach that milestone.

Kevin McKee opened the scoring in the second period followed by Farmer’s second goal of the game. Roybal scored a brace to close the period with USA leading 8-1.

Farmer and Roybal completed their hat-tricks for the ninth and tenth goals, respectively before Wang Zhi Dong scored a consolation goal to make it a 10-2 game.

“We got off to a decent start, obviously, right away. And thought we were happy with that part of it and really maintained it through two periods,” USA head coach David Hoff said. “I really liked our second period. That can be a tough period when you’re trying to wear on a team over time.”

Speaking about the final against the host nation, Hoff added:

“I told the guys you just enjoy the evening, you play the game one time tomorrow at 7:00 PM and you don’t need to play it earlier than that. Relax, do the things you have to, the normal preparation and be ready to play when the puck drops.”

China’s goaltender Ji Yan Zhao battled to make 13 saves, with Griffin Lamarre making three in USA’s triumph.

Norway beat Germany 6-1 in the opening game of the day to finish in seventh place at Moose Jaw 2023. Both teams were relegated to the B-Pool.

South Korea faces Italy on Sunday in the game for the fifth place. 

All games will be live on World Para Ice Hockey Facebook channel with the medal games also live on the World Para Ice Hockey website, with geo-blocking restrictions in Canada and Czechia. 

Complete schedule and results are available here