The city of Ostrava, Czech Republic once again welcomed the best players in the world for eight days, hosting the World Para Ice Hockey Championships for the third time in history. There were some amazing and memorable performances on the ice over eight days at the Ostravar Arena, and the top five finishers earned themselves automatic qualification spots for the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games
Here are the top moments from the World Championships in no particular order.
Roybal and Farmer unstoppable
While they are no longer teenage sensations, US forwards Brody Roybal and Declan Farmer's skills on the ice are still improving by the tournament, even as they are already considered they best in the world at their position. The power duo combined for 10 goals and eight assists at the World Championships, leading the USA to its record-extending fifth world title. Roybal was named Best Forward and Most Valuable Player of the tournament, while Farmer contributed a pair of goals in the gold-medal game.
Westlake ... for the save!?
Canada may not have won the gold medal it came to Ostrava for, but it left with another silver – and one that almost didn’t happen. In its semifinal against the RPC, veteran defenseman Greg Westlake had the highlight play that helped Canada advance to the final. Lying on his stomach across the blue area in front of the net, he reached out to swipe away the puck in the closing minutes of a close semifinal contest to preserve Canada's 2-1 victory.
The RPC had more than one moment in Ostrava -- they had 49. No team scored more goals at the tournament than the RPC, which won the bronze medal, returning to the international podium for the first time since 2015. The RPC's efficiency was shown throughout the depth of its roster, with 11 different players scoring goals in the tournament, and six players scoring more than five goals each.
Czech Republic cashes in
Aside from the medal round, the most crucial game of the tournament was the battle for fifth place between the Czech Republic and Norway, as the final Paralympic qualification spot was on the line.
With the help of the fans, the Czech Republic came away with a 2-1 victory. Goaltender Martin Kudela was a force in both that game, with eight saves, and the entirety of the tournament with 64 saves. A big celebration followed the game on ice, with the host team’s players singing and dancing alongside the fans.
Slovakia make their debut
Ostrava 2021 marked Slovakia’s first appearance at the World Championships A-Pool, and they were able to register a decisive 3-1 victory against Italy in the preliminary round with the spark from Martin Joppa’s stick. Joppa scored a team-leading three goals during the course of the tournament. The Slovakians almost had a second victory in their match against Norway, in which they lost by one goal late in the contest. They will have another chance to qualify for the Beijing 2022 Games at the Paralympic Qualification Tournament later this year.
Norway’s closes under pressure
Norway played in multiple preliminary round games during the tournament, showcasing the team’s experience under pressure. The squad recorded a 4-3 victory over Italy and 3-2 victory against Slovakia in the preliminary round, with the former coming on a penalty shootout. Three-time Paralympian Audun Bakke proved to be Mr. Clutch with the game-winner on the penalty shootout and a team-leading four goals in the tournament.
Fans in the stands
One of the highlights of the tournament was the return of the fans in the stands. The Local Organizing Committee announced that it will start to sell tickets three days before the puck drop at the World Championships, with a total of 2,500 fans were allowed every day in the 9,568 capacity Ostravar Arena. They were especially loud during the Czech Republic’s games, but they also showed their support for the other participating nations.