CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Close but no cigar for Canada after the United States hung on for a 3-2 victory in the gold medal match at the World Sledge Hockey Challenge on Saturday in Charlottetown.
Down by a goal and with momentum after Liam Hickey’s score five minutes into the third, Canada had a power play with just over three minutes left in the game thanks to a Josh Pauls delay of game penalty.
But the Americans dialed up an effective penalty kill, killing Canada’s energy and securing the W in front of a disappointed crowd at a nearly full MacLauchlan Arena.
For Pauls, Team USA captain, the win showed the Americans ability to battle despite allowing two goals on seven Canadian power-play chances.
“We showed we could fight through adversity. It’s always (rewarding) when you win those tough games, when you’re grinding it out. It’s big victory especially against a great rival. Canada played their butts off… but this is a special team we have,” said Pauls, who scored the eventual game-winning goal in the second period. “Soon as I threw (the puck) over the glass, I thought ‘oh oh’. Tough to take the penalty, but good to see we can kill off those tough penalties. I didn’t make it any easier.”
The win was the States fourth straight gold in the WSHC. It finished 5-0 overall to Canada’s 3-2. The United States came into the final with a 5-2 edging against the Canucks in the preliminary round.
Josh Misiewicz got things going for the States nine minutes into the first with his third goal of the tournament.
That 1-0 edge lasted until Brody Boybal’s shorthanded goal three minutes into the second period. Pauls netted the third goal two minutes later for a 3-0 advantage.
But Canada’s Tyler McGregor responded with a power-play goal two minutes later for a 3-1 American lead at the second intermission.
In the third, Hickey’s power-play score five minutes made it 3-2 and ignited Canada’s mojo. The Canucks pressed and wound up drawing the delay infraction on Pauls.
But the advantage was as lackluster as the United States penalty kill was solid and Canada’s chance fizzled. Then the USA played keep away for the final 1:35 and earned the gold.
For Hickey, Canada’s third straight silver medal didn’t have much shine, although he said despite the loss Team Canada will be prepared for the Paralympics in March in South Korea.
“Playing a good team like that, you have to capitalize on your chances. It’s a killer when you don’t have a good power play and tough to build momentum. We came out strong in the third, but we needed that in the first and second periods,” he said. “We’ll need to use this as a building block. We know how to beat this team. We have to build off that, take it t the next training camp and take it to Korea. Everyone will have to work extremely hard away from camp and be committed to that. We’ll be ready.”
Steve Cash (3-0) stopped 14-of-16 shots for the goaltending over Dominic Larocque (2-1), who kicked aside 11-of-14 attempts.
Korea beat Italy 6-3 to win the bronze medal earlier Saturday.
Declan Farmer finished as the tournament’s leading scorer with 13 points, tied for the lead in goals with Korea’s Seung Hwan Jung and Boyball (6) and with a tourney-leading seven assists.
Hickey led Canada with 10 points overall on five goals and five assists.
A look at Saturday’s World Sledge Hockey Challenge gold medal game at MacLauchlan Arena.
The Outcome - United States 3 Canada 2
The Goalscorers - United States: Josh Misiewicz (3), Brody Roybal (6), Josh Pauls (1); Canada: Liam Hickey (5), Tyler McGregor (3).
The Assists - United States: Josh Misiewicz (3), Luke McDermott (3), Nikko Landeros (5), Brody Roybal (6); Canada: Adam Dixon (5), Tyler McGregor (4), Dominic Cozzolino (5).
The Goalies - United States: Steve Cash, 14-of-16, win (3-0); Canada: Dominic Larocque, 11-of-14, loss (2-1).
POGs - United States: Brody Roybal; Canada: Liam Hickey.
By The Numbers
Shots By Period - United States: 5-7-1, 14; Canada: 5-7-4, 16.
Penalty Minutes - United States: 14; Canada: 8.
Power Play - United States: 0-for-4; Canada: 2-for-7, 29 per cent.