“We had little expectations coming into this tournament, and we were taking it as a learning curve, a lesson and motivation to improve”
With two teams making their international debuts, the 2018 World Para Ice Hockey Championships C-Pool had many unknowns.
After its conclusion in early November in Viermuaki, Finland; questions have been answered:
1. China means business
The nation made their first major appearance in the sport. Compared to tournament favourites Finland, China was the biggest question mark. But after only two matches, en route to the gold medal, they suddenly became the team everyone in the 2019 Worlds B-Pool will be watching.
China had a merciless win over Australia 40-0 and then shut out Finland 5-0 to advance to next year’s B-Pool. Che Hang was credited for two of those goals.
But the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games hosts have bigger goals in mind.
2. A missing piece
Finland will unfortunately have to wait another time for their promotion.
The 2016 silver medallists lost to Austria in the finals. Two years later and as hosts, Finland entered with experience on their side. But that alone did not cut it in Vierumaki.
Finland have another two years to work out what is needed to play with the big guys. Good news is that they know they can rely on goalkeeper Timo Karko who produced great performances at home.
3. Growing pains
Australia received Para ice hockey equipment via the PyeongChang 2018 Dream Project. Mixed with motivation and initiative, the country sent their first national team to an international competition.
Despite going 0-2 in Vierumaki, Australia returned home with an idea of what is needed to continue their development.
“We had little expectations coming into this tournament, and we were taking it as a learning curve, a lesson and motivation to improve,” said Jarred Liddicoat, named Most Valuable Player of the tournament.
While losing is tough, it is an important step in growing.
4. Signs of development
The second World Championships C-Pool saw two new nations compete, an exciting sight for the first international tournament since the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games. The last C-Pool tournament was in 2016 in Novi Sad, Serbia, also with three teams competing.
Next year, the seventh B-Pool edition will be held [hosts to be announced]. It will be exciting to see how China levels up to the competition there.