Nine athletes have been named on the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) Ones to Watch list for the 2017-18 Para ice hockey season, which will include the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games next March.
The announcement comes after the conclusion of the 2017 World Para Ice Hockey Paralympic Winter Games Qualification Tournament in Ostersund, Sweden, as the final three teams for PyeongChang 2018 were confirmed.
Selected by World Para Ice Hockey, the Ones to Watch athletes are individuals who have the potential to make headlines, especially at PyeongChang 2018, where the competing nations will be Canada, Czech Republic, Italy, Japan, Norway, South Korea, Sweden and USA. The list features a mix of players from the qualified teams who are also strong spokespersons for the sport.
Ones to Watch for Para alpine skiing, Para Nordic skiing and Para snowboard have already been announced. The list for wheelchair curling will be announced in the coming weeks.
Full biographies of the Ones to Watch for Para ice hockey are now available.
2017-18 Ones to Watch
Audun Bakke, Norway
The forward was a major surprise at the 2017 World Para Ice Hockey Championships A-Pool in Gangneung, South Korea. The Norwegians fell to South Korea in the bronze medal game 3-2, but they know they have a potent goal scorer in Bakke, who has been described as a dependable player in various game situations.
Adam Dixon, Canada
Dixon joined the Canadian national team in the 2006-07 season and has since been important in protecting Canada’s goal, as well as providing veteran leadership. He was named the Best Defenceman at the 2017 World Para Ice Hockey Championships, as Canada won the gold medal.
Declan Farmer, USA
With 12 goals and six assists, Farmer was named Best Forward at the 2017 World Championships in Gangneung, South Korea, where Team USA took the silver medal.
Wataru Horie, Japan
Horie stepped up big when his team needed him the most at the 2017 World Para Ice Hockey Paralympic Winter Games Qualification Tournament in Ostersund, Sweden. Japan had lost a defender due to injury in the first game, and Horie played more minutes to help Japan qualify for PyeongChang 2018. Horie was named the tournament’s Best Defender.
Pavel Kubes, Czech Republic
The Czech captained his team to PyeongChang 2018 after going undefeated at the 2017 Paralympic Winter Games Qualification Tournament. Kubes scored a team-high five goals at the competition in Ostersund, Sweden.
Tyler McGregor, Canada
The forward has arguably been regarded as one of the best players in the sport, and he showed why at the 2017 World Para Ice Hockey Championships A-Pool. He recorded 12 goals to tie as the tournament leader, including a hat-trick during the gold medal game against the USA.
Josh Pauls, USA
Pauls has been a staple on for Team USA since 2008, and will lead the team as captain at PyeongChang 2018. At the age of 17, he was part of the US team that won gold at Vancouver 2010, and helped them defend their title at Sochi 2014.
Gianluigi Rosa, Italy
Rosa has been an anchor for the Italian defensive line, utilising his speed and aggressiveness to cover all corners on the ice rink. He was tabbed the Best Defender at the 2013 Qualification Tournament to help Italy qualify for Sochi 2014, as well as the 2016 European Championships where Italy took the silver medal.
Man-Gyun Yu, South Korea
Yu picked up Para ice hockey late at 32 years old but he quickly showed his puck-stopping abilities. In the bronze medal game at the 2017 World Championships A-Pool on home ice, the goalkeeper made 12 saves from 14 shots on goal; helping his team defeat Norway 3-2.