As our in depth look at Para ice hockey continues ahead of PyeongChang 2018 here are nine players to keep an eye on at the Paralympic Winter Games.
Adam Dixon, Canada
Dixon joined the Canadian national team in the 2006-07 season and has become a vitally important player when it comes to breaking the puck out of Canada’s own zone, as well as providing veteran leadership. He recorded four goals and 14 assists, and was awarded the Best Defenceman, as Canada won the 2017 World Para Ice Hockey Championships.
Audun Bakke, Norway
The forward was a major surprise at the 2017 World Championships A-Pool, providing a new source of energy on the offensive end. The Norwegians fell to South Korea in the bronze medal game 3-2, but they know they have a potent goal scorer in Bakke. At the last major international tournament before PyeongChang 2018 in Turin, Italy, Bakke played all five games, scoring two goals and four assists; Norway took the bronze.
Declan Farmer, USA
With 12 goals and six assists, Farmer was named Best Forward at the 2017 Worlds. It was not enough however for his team to retain their world title as they lost out to rivals Canada 4-1 in the gold medal game.
Gianluigi Rosa, Italy
Rosa has been an anchor for the Italian defensive line, utilising his speed and aggressiveness to cover all corners of the ice rink. He was tabbed the Best Defender at the Sochi 2014 Qualification Tournament, as well as the 2016 European Championships where Italy took the silver medal. He was crucial in an exciting 4-3 overtime win over Norway at the recent Turin tournament in January, contributing three assists; Italy went on to take the silver.
Josh Pauls, USA
Pauls has been a staple on the blue line for the USA since 2008, and will lead the team as captain at PyeongChang 2018. He was the youngest member on the US team that won gold at Vancouver 2010, and four years later, his hunger to win helped the USA to Paralympic gold at Sochi 2014.
Man-Gyun Yu, South Korea
Yu picked up Para ice hockey late at 32 years old but 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 and giving the host nation plenty to look forward to at their home Paralympic Winter Games.
Pavel Kubes, Czech Republic
The Czech captain led his team to PyeongChang 2018 by winning the 2017 Paralympic Winter Games Qualification Tournament. It capped a remarkable comeback season for the Czechs following their relegation to the B-Pool in 2015. Kubes scored a team-high five goals as the Czechs proved they belonged back in the A-Pool, finishing undefeated.
Tyler McGregor, Canada
The forward has been regarded as arguably one of the best players in the sport, and he showed why at the 2017 Worlds. He recorded 12 goals to tie as the tournament lead scorer, including a hat-trick during the gold medal game against the USA. His two goals in 17 seconds helped seal Canada’s fourth world title, and the second since McGregor debuted on the national team.
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. Japan had lost a defender due to injury in the first game, and the former wheelchair basketball player took his place to help Japan successfully qualify for PyeongChang 2018. Horie was named the tournament’s Best Defender.