Canada down USA to claim historic title

Goyang – Korea, April 20, 2013: Canada grinded out a 1-0 gold-medal victory over arch rival USA on Saturday (20 April) in what was without a doubt the most aggressive, fast-paced game of the 2013 IPC Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships in Goyang, Korea.

The much-celebrated win is Canada’s third world title (2000, 2008, 2013) – the most ever for any ice sledge hockey team.

Canada finished the Championships with an undefeated 5-0 record, outscoring their opponents 20-3.

During the medals presentation, Canada’s Greg Westlake was named Best Forward at the Championships, USA’s Taylor Chace was named best defenseman and Russia’s Mikhail Ivanov was named Best Goaltender.

Westlake had eight points in the tournament with five goals and three assists, Chace had six points with five goals and an assist, and Ivanov stopped more than 96 per cent of the pucks that flew his way, recording 55 saves.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Westlake said of Canada winning gold.

“We haven’t won since 2008 and had a lot of negative things happen to our team. Every year it seems we would lose and battle some type of adversity with a teammate. We just had to keep getting better, and today we finally had the right game at the right time.”

In an extremely tough defensive battle in the title game, Canada’s Graeme Murray was the only player to find the net, scoring just 2:07 into the second period off a pass from teammate Anthony Gale.

Aside from Murray’s goal, much of the game stayed in the middle of the ice, with both teams knocking each other around in battles for possession of the puck.

Canada outshot the USA in the game 15-5, with Billy Bridges and Westlake each having four shots on the net. Forward Josh Pauls led the Americans with two shots on goal.

Corbin Watson was stellar in the net for the winning side, saving all five shots, while the USA’s Steve Cash recorded 14 saves.

In the bronze-medal game, Russia toppled the Czech Republic 3-0 to make the podium at their first World Championships A-Pool, just five months after winning last year’s B-Pool event in Novi Sad, Serbia.

The Russian team revealed why they have the potential to make some noise as the Sochi 2014 host nation, showcasing stellar play in goal by Ivanov in Goyang, as well as top scoring threats in forwards Dmitry Lisov and Ruslan Tuchin.

“In the first World Championships A-Pool for us, a bronze medal is perfect,” Ivanov said.

“We have a lot of good players. We are a team,” Ivanov said. “I may have made a lot of saves, but everyone else played well and supported me.”

The Russians had no problem putting away the Czechs to clinch third place, as Ruslan Tuchin opened up the scoring for the Sochi 2014 hosts just 2:11 into the game to give them the quick 1-0 advantage.

Then within a span of a minute in the second period, Evgeny Petrov then found the net for Russia, assisted by Ilia Volkov, and Vasilii Varlakov netted another on a pass from Tuchin.

Ivanov was at his best between the posts for Russia the remainder of the game, recording the shutout along with 14 saves.

Jiri Berger had six shots on goal for the Czechs, while goalkeeper Michal Vapenka saved the puck 13 times.

Norway finished fifth at the Championships, meaning they will join the aforementioned teams in qualifying for the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.

Italy (sixth), Korea (seventh) and Sweden (eighth) can still qualify for the Games if they finish in the top three at the Paralympic Qualification Tournament, which is to be held later this year. —- IPC

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