“For the past two years, we’ve had our eyes on gold in London.”
Despite a last-minute comeback, Canada lost 53-56 against the Americans and finished with a silver medal at the 2012 Canada Cup International Wheelchair Rugby Tournament.
In the bronze medal game, Australia came back from being behind by as much as 6 to beat Japan by four 63-59. Until the final seconds of regulation play, Japan had been ahead the entire game.
In front of a near sold-out crowd at the Richmond Olympic Oval, the Canadians traded goals and hits with the rival Americans for the first half of the game. At halftime, the score was tied 24-24. Halfway through the third quarter, however, Canada racked up several penalties that resulted in turnovers and quickly found themselves behind by as much as six.
During the fourth quarter, however, a spark was lit by Fabien Lavoie, whose tough defence resulted in several steals, and 18-year-old rookie Zak Madell, whose energy provided a much-needed boost. Canada brought the game to within two, but ultimately they could not close the gap to secure the win.
After the game, Head Coach Kevin Orr praised his team’s efforts.
“This tournament allowed us to test a lot of different line-ups to prepare for the Paralympics,” he said. “Some of those line-ups worked, and some of them didn’t, but the good news is that there’s still three months to the Paralympics and we’ve shown a lot of progress.”
Canada and the USA have a long-standing rivalry, which was caught on camera in the 2005 Academy Award-nominated documentary “Murderball.” Until Japan beat the Americans at this tournament, Canada was the only team to have ever won against them at a sanctioned tournament.
The next stop for all eight teams competing at the 2012 Canada Cup International Wheelchair Rugby Tournament is the London 2012 Paralympics. Orr says that his team will be ready.
“For the past two years, we’ve had our eyes on gold in London,” he said. “This week has proven that with a few adjustments, we can get there.”