One year ago today (27 April) the most successful World Para Ice Hockey Championships kicked off in Ostrava, Czech Republic, attracting a record 64,7480 spectators throughout the tournament.
Over the next week, World Para Ice Hockey will look back at some of the best moments from the event on its social media channels, culminating with a Watch Party on Monday (4 May) of the epic gold-medal game between Canada and the USA on the World Para Ice Hockey Facebook page.
The tournament vaulted the sport to new heights with some of the most thrilling matches the sport has ever seen and they were picked up by major national broadcasters such as Czech TV, RAI, CBC and NBC.
Olympic champion and two-time Stanley cup champion goaltender Dominik Hasek served as an ambassador for the event in the Czech Republic, while other NHL stars and teams such as Patrick Kane and the New York Rangers posted about the event on social media.
“We wanted to show the whole world our sport, and we did,” Czech head coach Jiri Briza said at the conclusion of the tournament. “I think everyone should see our sport because the life values in it are incredible.”
For every Czech game, the host nation’s fans arrived an hour before to cheer them on at warmups and stayed an hour after to celebrate, whether they won or lost.
The USA won its record-tying fourth world title, with Brody Roybal securing the golden goal in overtime against Canada off a pass from Declan Farmer. The two combined for 11 goals, more than any other forward duo, and Farmer led all players at the tournament with 14 points and a +17 on the ice.
South Korea proved that its Paralympic bronze medal from the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Games was no fluke, defeating the host nation on its home ice to pick up a bronze on the world stage.
As the sport of Para ice hockey continued to grow, so did the strength of its officiating team. Several athletes commented on the fairness and professionalism of the officiating crew, as organisers heralded five officials working their first A-Pool World Championships.
“Everything was phenomenal from the beginning to the end,” were Briza’s last words before leaving the ice rink at the end of the week.