Canada’s national Para-hockey team came up short against the rival United States on Wednesday, falling 3-2 in overtime in the final preliminary-round game at the 2022 Para Hockey Cup in Bridgewater, N.S.
American star Declan Farmer scored the power-play winner 1:16 into the extra frame to lift the six-time defending gold medallists to their third straight win at the four-team tournament.
Canada rallied back from a two-goal deficit to force overtime, with captain Tyler McGregor leading the way.
The three-time Paralympic medallist scored twice in the second period, including the equalizer for his 100th international goal. Canadian defenceman Adam Dixon assisted both goals.
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Jean-François Huneault made 20 saves for Canada while playing all three periods, including several key stops to keep the game even.
The Para Hockey Cup continues Thursday with the semifinals. Canada will face the Czech Republic for a spot in Saturday’s gold-medal game, while the U.S. will go up against Italy in the other semifinal.
Wednesday’s game marked a major improvement for the Canadian squad after surrendering 12 goals across two losses against the U.S. in September at the International Para Hockey Cup in Ostrava, Czech Republic, including a shutout loss in the gold-medal game.
The Americans also defeated Canada for gold at the Beijing Paralympics last March.
“Down 2-0, the way we came back and battled through was exciting. If anything, we’re leaving today with a lot more belief than we had coming into the game, and I think the Americans are leaving with a little more doubt, and that’s exciting for us moving forward,” McGregor said.
‘Terrific exhibition of what Para-hockey can be’
Both teams entered Wednesday’s game undefeated, and the matchup lived up to expectations with back-and-forth action.
“That was a terrific exhibition of what Para-hockey can be at the highest level. That was two teams, laying it all on the line tonight. When you see an effort like that, you are proud to be a part of this game,” said first-year Canadian head coach Russ Herrington.
Bolstered by the home crowd at the Lunenburg County Lifestyle Centre, the Canadians battled back to tie the game in the second period as the momentum shifted.
“Everybody was going tonight. We got better every shift, and it was fun to see everyone gelling and putting out that kind of effort,” said Canadian defenceman Tyrone Henry.
“Both teams came with speed and so much physicality and it was a lot of fun to play like that. We know we can play at that pace and it’s important to follow that up tomorrow.”
Huneault, playing at his second international event, denied Farmer with a shoulder save in the final minutes of the second period, while American goalie Jen Lee also made huge stops down the stretch to prevent the go-ahead goal.
The Czechs edged Italy 3-2 earlier on Wednesday, with Filip Vesely’s two goals leading the way.
- #4 James Dunn — Wallacetown, Ont.
- #8 Tyler McGregor — Forest, Ont.
- #9 Corbyn Smith — Monkton, Ont.
- #13 Vincent Boily — Alma, Que.
- #19 Dominic Cozzolino — Mississauga, Ont.
- #20 Jacob Leblanc — Moncton, N.B.
- #21 Alexis Auclair — Saint-Hyacinthe, Que.
- #22 Matteo Pellizzari — Vancouver
- #23 Liam Hickey — St. John’s
- #26 Anton Jacobs-Webb — Gatineau, Que.
- #98 Mathieu Lelièvre — Levis, Que.
- #2 Rod Crane — Clarksburg, Ont.
- #5 Tyrone Henry — Ottawa
- #7 Zach Lavin — Essex, Ont.
- #11 Adam Dixon — Midland, Ont.
- #29 Micah Kovacevich — Edmonton
- #61 Rob Armstrong — Erin, Ont.
- #92 Auren Halbert — Calgary
- #30 Jean-François Huneault — Saint-Eustache, Que.
- #31 Dominic Larocque — Quebec City
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