The USA defeated arch-rivals Canada, 5-1, in dynamic fashion on Saturday (26 June) in the gold-medal game at the World Para Ice Hockey Championships in Ostrava, Czech Republic to claim its second consecutive and record-extending fifth overall world title.
The USA have now finished on the podium at the last nine World Championships dating back to 2004, and they will hold onto their No. 1 world ranking heading into the Beijing 2022 Winter Games as both the reigning Paralympic and world champions. With its silver medal, the Canadians have now finished on the podium at all but one of the 11 editions of the World Championships since they began in 1996.
“That was probably our best game we’ve ever played against Canada since I’ve been on the national team in nine years,” Declan Farmer said.
“I thought we really earned this victory tonight, but that doesn’t mean we are discounting Canada, RPC, South Korea or Czech, or any of these teams going into next season. We know the bigger mountain is the Paralympics and we are ready to get grinding on that.”
One week after losing to Canada by a single goal in the preliminary round, under the pressure of the medal round, the USA relied on the stick of Farmer, who had scored the game-winner in the gold-medal game at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Paralympics and the goal that forced overtime in the 2019 World Championships final.
On a power play 7:28 into the first period, the USA’s Jack Wallace flung the puck into the crease where Farmer was in the right place at the right time to tap it into the net for a score.
Three minutes later, retired US Marine Travis Dodson took the puck from the right face-off dot and swiped it into Canadian goaltender Dominic Larocque’s body, after which it took a friendly bounce into the net. On the other end of the ice, with 1:06 left in the frame on a power play, Greg Westlake found Billy Bridges – both three-time Paralympic medallists – to bring Canada within one at the break.
In the second period, US captain Josh Pauls flexed his leadership and extended his point streak to five games with his third goal of the week following a faceoff won by Farmer. Then Farmer himself notched his second score of the game with just over a minute remaining in the period.
In the final frame, two years after making his international debut, David Eustace scored his first World Championship goal for the USA, assisted by Dodson.
Steve Cash recorded the shutout between the pipes for the USA, while Larocque had 34 saves for Canada.
“I’m proud of this team, and I thought we battled,” Canadian captain Tyler McGregor said. “We lost and they simply outperformed us. We’ll leave here and re-evaluate and regroup quick.”
US forward Brody Roybal was named both the Most Valuable Player and Best Forward of the tournament, leading the world champions with 11 points, including seven goals and four assists.
“Our goal here was to get better every single time we got on the ice, and that’s what happened,” Roybal said. “We are world champions again, and we are so happy for it.”
Canada’s Liam Hickey was tabbed the Best Defender with 10 points, and Larocque was the Best Goaltender with three victories in the net and an 88.89 save percentage.
By finishing within the top five in Ostrava, both the USA and Canada booked their tickets to the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games, where they will be joined by the RPC, South Korea and the Czech Republic. Additional teams will qualify at the Paralympic Qualification Tournament later this year.