Moose Jaw 2023: Winning starts for Czechia, China and Germany

Chinese beat Italy 10-1 in their first-ever World Championships A-Pool game in the opening day in Canada 29 May 2023
A  Para ice hockey player taking a shot in front of a goaltender
Zheng Zhang beats Italy’s Gabriele Araudo to score China's second goal in its opening game in Moose Jaw
ⒸErica Perreaux / Hockey Canada Images / WPIH
By Shannon Coulter | For World Para Ice Hockey

In the first World Championships game ever on Canadian soil on Sunday (28 May), Czechia won 3-0 over South Korea in the opening game of the preliminary round at the Moose Jaw 2023 World Para Ice Hockey Championships A-Pool.

In addition to Czechia, China and Germany are also into the win column after Day 1 of the event.

Czechia 3, South Korea 0

It was a battle of the goaltenders in the first period between Czechia and Korea, with both Martin Kudela and Hyuk Jun Choi making several big saves to keep it a scoreless game. 

However, the Czechs took control of the game in the second period, with Patrik Sedlacek opening the scoring with a power play goal and Vaclav Hecko doubling the lead only 70 seconds later with an unassisted goal.

“We knew this game would be pretty hard because Korea is a tough opponent, but we had a good season this year,” Czechia head coach Jakub Novotny said. “We knew our guys got better and they got ready for this game because it was an important game.”

Czechia’s final goal was the result of an excellent passing play, with Sedlacek sending a perfect pass to Michal Geier, who went glove-side to make it 3-0.

Kudela played all 45 minutes for Czechia, making six saves for the shutout. Choi guarded the net for the majority of the game to make 32 saves, with Daehan Bong entering the game after the Czech’s third goal to face one shot.

China 10, Italy 1

Yi Feng Shen registered five goals to power China to a 10-1 win over Italy for China’s first-ever victory in A-Pool at the World Para Ice Hockey Championships.

“This is a very good start for our team,” said Shen, who received player of the game honours for China. “We are going to try our best to play well in the subsequent games.”

China needed less than two minutes to get on the board, with Shen going blocker-side for his first goal of the game. Just 13 seconds later, Zheng Zhang beat Italy’s Gabriele Araudo to make it 2-0.

The Italians closed the gap to one goal early in the second period with Stephan Kafmann’s goal one minute into the second period. Jin Qiang Xu responded with a power play goal to restore China’s lead—the first of eight unanswered goals by the Chinese.

Yan Zhao Ji made eight saves in his first appearance at Moose Jaw 2023, while Araudo and Santino Stillitano split time in goal to make a collective 19 saves.

Germany 5, Norway 3

In an exciting closing game on Day 1, Germany opened their World Championships campaign with a 5-3 victory over Norway.

The Germans got off to a quick start, with Bernhard Hering capitalising on a breakaway opportunity only 1:41 into the first period.

Audun Bakke responded for Norway later in the opening frame to make it a tied game heading into intermission.

Germany put offensive pressure on Norway throughout the middle of the game as Jan Malte Berlage, Felix Schrader and Hering scored to give the Germans a 4-1 lead early in the third period.

The Norwegians fired back, with Ola Oiseth recording back-to-back goals less than two minutes apart to get his team within one, until Germany sealed the Norway’s fate with an empty net goal.

“Norway was maybe the better team, but we had passion, and we had a very good goalkeeper. So in the end, we deserved to win because we fought, we have practiced, we have worked a lot to be here,” defenceman Lucas Sklorz said. “Today was a very huge step and we want to take the second step tomorrow.”

Despite the loss, Norway outshot the Germans 22-17. Simon Kunst made 19 saves in Germany’s first win of its World Championship campaign.

Day 2 in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan will see the debut of the host nation and the defending champions United States. USA faces Czechia in the first game, followed by Norway v China, as Canada kick off its home Worlds campaign against Korea.

You can follow Moose Jaw 2023 live on the World Para Ice Hockey website and World Para Ice Hockey Facebook page with geo-block restrictions in Canada and Czechia. 

Complete schedule and live results are available here.