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It's all about staying in the present for Billy Bridges

Billy Bridges and Team Canada begin play Sunday in the World Sledge Hockey Challenge in Charlottetown. Jason Malloy/The Guardian
Billy Bridges and Team Canada begin play Sunday in the World Sledge Hockey Challenge in Charlottetown. Jason Malloy/The Guardian

Summerside native says he’s focused on this year’s World Sledge Hockey Challenge, not last year’s loss

 

Onward and upward.

Billy Bridges said he’s moved on from last year’s 5-2 loss in the gold medal game of the World Sledge Hockey Challenge at MacLauchlan Arena.

“Our coach’s theory has definitely been to have no rearview mirror, that’s wins or losses,” the Summerside native said Wednesday, as he prepared for this year’s event back in Charlottetown for a second straight year.

“We finished the season last year with winning the world championship, so it was nice to get back at them, but we definitely still have something to prove here.”

This year’s four-team tournament starts on Sunday.

Charlottetown has hosted the event three times with Canada winning gold in 2008 and silver in 2009 and 2016. With friends and family in the stands watching, Bridges said winning gold would be great.

“We want to win this real bad,” he said.

Canada led last year’s final 1-0 after the first period, but the States responded with three goals in the first three minutes of the second stanza and never looked back. They led 5-2 heading to the third and the score would hold up as USA celebrated its third straight challenge championship.

“They’re such a good team. They were undefeated all last year until the gold medal game (of the world championship where) we beat them 4-1 in the final,” Bridges said. “I think we had something to prove there, and we still do now.”

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Team Canada arrives today to get set for the tournament. While the team wants to win the challenge, the 20 players have extra motivation with the 15-player roster for March’s Paralympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, still not finalized.

But it’s more than just scoring three goals in a game to help solidify a spot on the national team, Bridges said. It’s also about being a good team player.

“We don't have individual heroes,” he said. “We want to create a full team, a deep team that we can play three lines.”

Bridges, 33, has been to four Paralympics, winning gold in 2006, bronze in 2014 and finishing fourth in 2002 and 2010.

“I would to love to have another gold on my chest,” he said. “I know how special that is, how special that team was and how amazing it felt to have that gold.”

Showing their colours

The city hall bell tower, Holman Grand Hotel and Confederation Centre of the Arts will be lit up in red as the World Sledge Hockey Challenge returns to Charlottetown.

The event takes place at MacLauchlan Arena Dec. 3-9. It is the second straight year the city has been the host.

Teams arrive today for the tournament with the first games slated for Sunday.

ParaSport and Recreation P.E.I., in partnership with the City of Charlottetown, Hockey Canada and Hockey P.E.I., are hosting the event.


World Sledge Hockey Challenge

What – A four-team sledge hockey tournament.

Who – Canada, United States, Italy and Korea.

When – Dec. 3-9.

Where – MacLauchlan Arena.

Tournament co-chairpeople – Tracy Stevenson and Dean Lund.

Tickets – Full tournament ticket packages are $50 while more information is available online at HockeyCanada.ca/wshc

Schedule

Sunday

Noon – USA vs. Korea.

5 p.m. – Italy vs. Canada

Monday

Noon – Italy vs. USA.

7 p.m. – Canada vs. Korea.

Wednesday

Noon – Korea vs. Italy.

7 p.m. – USA vs. Canada.

Thursday, Dec. 7

Noon and 7 p.m. – Semifinals*.

Saturday, Dec. 9

1 p.m. – Bronze medal game.

5 p.m. – Gold medal game.

* Canada to play in 7 p.m. semifinal.

Recent champs

December 2016    USA

January 2016        USA

2015                      USA

2013                     Canada

2012                     USA

November 2011    Canada

April 2011             Canada

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