PyeongChang 2018: Canada skate to first Paralympic final in 12 years15.03.2018
Captain Greg Westlake and leading scorer Tyler McGregor power Canada to fourth straight win
World champions Canada advanced to their first Paralympic final in 12 years on Thursday (15 March), defeating host nation South Korea, 7-0, in the PyeongChang 2018 semi-final round in front of a capacity crowd at the Gangneung Hockey Centre.
Through four games, Canada has appeared undaunted, not allowing a single goal and outscoring its opponents 42-0. The four-time Paralympic medallists had the puck possession in their favour the majority of the game against South Korea, outshooting their opponents on the day by a line of 24-2.
"It feels good to get back to the final - 12 is my jersey number, so we were just waiting 12 years again for the right time," joked captain Greg Westlake, who was a part of Canada’s gold-medal winning team at the Torino 2006 Games. "When you get older, you realise how few and far between the opportunity is to just even play for gold. I think we take it for granted being a hockey team from Canada, where everybody just expects greatness. But greatness doesn’t happen overnight. It takes hard work every single day. I’m really, really proud to be in a gold-medal game, and if we can win it that’s even better."
Liam Hickey, a Rio 2016 Paralympian in wheelchair basketball, opened the first-period scoring for Canada against South Korea 4:17 into the game, barreling through the crease to take in a pass from forward Billy Bridges and put it in. With exactly nine minutes left on the clock, Dom Cozzolino, who injured his spinal-cord playing able-bodied ice hockey in 2009, took the puck from the left wall and flung it all the way into the net for a highlight-reel worthy score.
In the frame’s final two minutes, Westlake found a small pocket of ice between goaltender Jae-Woong Lee’s sledge and the pipe for a score, and Bridges sailed the puck to the very top of the net to make it 4-0 in time for the first intermission.
Bridges, the husband of Canadian Olympic hockey player Sami Jo Small, continued his strong form in the second period with his second goal of the day when he caught Lee off guard on the side of the crease.
Forward Tyler McGregor padded Canada’s lead even further with a score 5:48 into the final frame off a pass from Westlake and then a team-leading eighth goal with under three minutes remaining in the contest.
"We came to Korea to have an opportunity at gold and I think we did a great job of quieting the crowd here," McGregor said. "The atmosphere was unbelieveable and the Korean fans have been great all week long. We were able to captialize on some chances and get the early lead, and then we killed some very important peanlties and came away with a good win."
Corbin Watson and Dominic Larocque split the goaltending duties for Canada with a save each, while Lee, who will turn 22 on the day of the bronze-medal game, stopped the puck 17 times for South Korea.
Every competition as well as the Opening and Closing Ceremonies can be watched live right here on the International Paralympic Committee's website. Highlights of each day’s action will also be made available.