Moose Jaw 2023: USA dominates hosts Canada to take third straight world title

United States wins A-Pool Worlds for the sixth time following a 6-1 victory; Czechia picks first medal by beating China 3-2 in the third-place game 05 Jun 2023
The USA Para ice hockey national team celebrating on ice at the Moose Jaw 2023 World Championships
USA took its sixth World Championships A-Pool trophy in 2023, the first edition to be held in Canada
ⒸUSA Hockey
By World Para Ice Hockey

USA continued to make history on ice as the first team to win three consecutive A-Pool World Championships, and its sixth overall, following a 6-1 victory over hosts Canada in front of nearly 3,000 fans in the Moose Jaw 2023 final on Sunday evening (4 June).

The matchup marked the sixth straight World Championships final between the two North American rivals and the first to take place in Canada as the Moose Jaw World Para Ice Hockey Championships A-Pool concluded after seven days of action. 

In the bronze medal game, Czechia picked up its first-ever medal at a major event after beating Paralympic bronze medallists China 3-2 at Moose Jaw Events Centre.

USA 6, Canada 1

Paralympic and defending world champions USA kicked things off early as forward Joshua Misiewicz scored less than three minutes into the game, deflecting a shot from captain Josh Pauls past Canadian goaltender Dominic Larocque from close range.

USA goaltender Jen Lee secured the 1-0 lead first on a point-blank shot from the slot at the midway mark of the first period, and later shutting down a high danger scoring chance on the penalty kill on a power play.

The home crowd's hopes for an equaliser lasted nearly 12 minutes, until Declan Farmer got his first goal of the game scoring short-handed to extend the U.S. lead.

The first Para ice hockey player to be nominated to the Laureus Awards this year, Farmer picked the puck up off the boards and raced down the ice to score his eighth goal at Moose Jaw 2023.

USA took 83 seconds to score again in the second period with Player of the Game David Eustace assisted by Jack Wallace. Wallace made the game 4-0 in another short-handed goal as Canada missed plenty of power-play opportunities throughout the game to finish 0-for-6 (the U.S. went 0-for-3 on the power play).

Canadian captain Tyler McGregor got the hosts on the board early in the third period following an assist from Zach Lavin. But USA scored twice again before the final whistle. 

First Noah Grove assisted Farmer for his ninth goal of the tournament with less than seven minutes remaining in the game. The U.S. star was named both the MVP and the Best Forward at the Moose Jaw 2023 A-Pool Worlds.

Kevin McKee wrapped up the game scoring an empty net goal with 2:55 remaining to make it a 6-1 final.

Dominic Larocque made 17 saves for Canada, while Jen Lee had eight stops on the other end of the ice.

“Any time we have an important kill, you’re going to see Farmer, (Brody) Roybal, Wallace and Pauls on the ice, and every one of them is a threat to do something individually,” USA head coach David Hoff said.

“That’s one thing we told the guys, just be patient and the chances will come. They definitely got some chances, and then we had David Eustace and Travis Dodson playing so well, too. When you have a so-called third line playing that well, it makes it so hard for teams to do very much against you.”

The United States outshot Canada 23-9 and finished the World Championships with a 5-0-0-0 (W-OTW-OTL-L) unbeaten record. Team USA also won the world title in 2009, 2012, 2019, 2012 and 2023.

“Hopefully it’ll never end, we just have to keep working and keep grinding all the time and hopefully we’ll keep on winning,” USA forward Eustace said. “We’ve just been working our way up all week, it started at base camp and now we’ve got to the top of the mountain and it feels great.”

Player of the Game for Canada, captain McGregor felt the home team paid the price for the missed opportunities.

“You have to show up to the gold medal game under a lot of pressure, play your best, make plays under pressure and be ready for whatever comes your way. I think we’re capable of doing that and we showed that we’re at least on the path to doing so,” McGregor said. “It looks like a 6-1 game; we had our chances, we didn’t capitalise and that’s one of the differences right now. When they get the chance they make the most of it, that’s part of our process and we’ll get there.”

Czechia 3, China 2

The host nation of the previous two editions of the World Para Ice Hockey Championships A-Pool, Czechia made history in Canada by picking up its first A-Pool medal on Sunday in Moose Jaw.

A goal from captain Radek Zelinka in the final period gave the Czech a 3-2 win and prompted an emotional celebration on Saskatchewan ice. 

“We are extremely happy, we put a lot of work to this World Championships and to the preparation. The whole season was very tough for us. We are very grateful for all Czech Para ice hockey for this medal in Pool A, a first medal for us,” Player of the Game Michal Geier said.

China took the lead less than two minutes into the game with an unassisted goal from captain Cui Yu Tao. 

The Beijing 2022 bronze medallists made their A-Pool debut in Moose Jaw and looked on the way to another podium finish for most of the first period. That was until 11:17 when defenceman Pavel Kubes assisted captain Geier for a backhand flick into the net to make it 1-1.

Geier took advantage of a power play to put his team ahead with just over two minutes into the second period following a turnover of the puck behind the Chinese net. But the Asian team bounced back with only 12 seconds to the end of the period after Wang Zhi Dong assisted star Shen Yi Feng for the equaliser. 

The Czech capitalised on another power play to score the bronze medal goal after Zelinka’s point shot caught goaltender Ji Yan Zhao out of position with 74 seconds remaining in the game.

Goalie Martin Kudela saved 13 shots for the Czech while Zhao made seven saves for the Chinese.

“China had a couple of more chances to score but our goalie was just a wall for the whole tournament. He played well every game and we could count on him in this game as well,” Czechia head coach Jakub Novotny said.

“It was nerve-wracking for us, coaches, and I told the players (after the game) that it was the best Western movie we ever saw because they shoot, they scored. It was amazing.”

South Korea finished in fifth place after a 2-1 win over Italy in the shootout in the opening game on Sunday.

Complete results and stats from the Moose Jaw 2023 World Para Ice Hockey Championships A-Pool can be found here.