OSTRAVA, Czech Republic – A shorthanded goal in the first from Liam Hickey
(St. John’s, N.L.) and power-play goal in the second from Tyler McGregor
(Forest, Ont.) were all the Canadians would need to secure a spot in the
final at the 2021 IPC World Para Hockey Championship, with a 2-1 win over
RPC in the semi.
The importance of special teams was evident early in this one, with two
Canadian penalties in the first two minutes, handing RPC an extended
two-man advantage. But it would be Canada who capitalized during that
Hickey picking off a pass in the neutral zone, carried the puck into the
RPC end and riffled a shot past Andrei Kasatkin top corner to put Canada
ahead just under three minutes into the first. The red and white would
continue to press in the opening frame, but couldn’t manage to beat
Kasatkin again, despite outshooting RPC 5-0.
In the second, it would be RPC finding itself in penalty trouble, with
another set of back-to-back penalties called and Canada getting a chance
with a 5-on-3 power play. RPC would hold off the attack through the first
penalty, but McGregor would find the back of the net with a minute left in
the second one. Billy Bridges (Summerside, P.E.I.) coming up with another
brilliant no-look pass to find McGregor in the slot.
Bridges and Hickey lead the Canadian contingent with seven assists each.
McGregor now has eight goals in the tournament for a share of the
tournament goal scoring lead.
With just over five minutes to go in middle frame, Canada found itself down
a man again, and this time RPC would make the most of it, cutting the
Canadian lead 2-1. Dominic Larocque (Quebec City, Que.) who hadn’t faced
any shots through the first 23 minutes of the game, made six saves in the
period to keep Canada ahead.
In the third, the parade to the penalty box would continue, with mostly the
red and white taking a seat three times. But excellent defensive play –
highlighted by a diving block by Greg Westlake (Oakville, Ont.) at the edge
of the crease – kept RPC off the scoresheet. Despite some close chances,
RPC would not register an official shot on net in the final frame.
With the win, Canada advances to its fifth straight gold medal game at para
worlds. All of those games have come against the United States, with the
two countries alternating wins for an even 2-2 record. Canada will have a
chance to avenge a 3-2 overtime loss the last time these two met in the
final in 2019.
Puck drop is 3 p.m. ET/ 12 p.m. PT tomorrow, as Canada will look for its
fifth-ever IPC World Para Hockey Championship title.