CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – Round 1 goes to the United States.
The Americans scored with two minutes to go in the second period to break a 2-2 tie and added an insurance marker 44 seconds into the third to defeat Canada 5-2 Wednesday in the final game of the preliminary round at the World Sledge Hockey Challenge.
“It’s always big going undefeated, but you have to keep your mind focused on the future,” said Josh Misiewicz, who scored the winner and added two assists. “There’s some tough teams. All four teams can play. Canada is always right there with us.”
Misiewicz said being able to regain the lead heading to the third was big for the squad.
Summerside native Billy Bridges scored both of Canada’s goals Wednesday, but he was thinking about the loss afterwards.
“I’d much rather not score a single one and give our goalie a shutout and win the game,” he said.
The Americans started strong and controlled the play early on, recording the first five shots of the game in the opening five minutes. Canada got going midway through the frame and Bridges scored with 4:25 left in the period. He tied it 5:13 into the second.
“We had the flashes of how we play,” Bridges said.
“We’re heading in the right direction,” he added. “I know we lost the game today and we let five goals against – that’s the first time that we've let that happen since the last time we were friggin’ here last year – and we got to have that sour taste in our mouth about that and we’ve got to be ready to do something about it.”
Brody Roybal scored twice, including the empty net goal, and added an assist for the Americans, while Declan Farmer and Kevin McKee also scored. Nikko Landeros and McKee had helpers.
Liam Hickey had two assists for Canada, while captain Greg Westlake and Dominic Cozzolino each added one.
Steve Cash made 20 saves for the win. Corbin Watson allowed four goals on 11 shots in 30 minutes of play before being replaced by Dominic Larocque, who stopped both shots he faced.
Canada had lots of chances, but Cash was money in the bank for the United States.
“He’s a stud,” Misiewicz said. “He’s Iceman. He’s just always on top of the game. It’s just great to have him back there.”
Canada was unlucky at times, ringing iron on a handful of times.
Bridges said Cash is good, but they shoot on good goalies all the time, and it comes down to execution.
“We have to start burying our chances,” he said.
The mutual respect is obviously; so is the fact the teams don’t like losing to their rival.
While the Americans won Wednesday, many observers expect the teams could see each other again Saturday with a gold medal on the line and again in about 100 days time when the ultimate goal – Paralympic gold – will be the prize.
“These games are extremely important, but the way that it works in amateur Paralympic sport is you really do get one crack at a Paralympic gold every four years and you have to make sure it counts,” Bridges said. “We fully trust that our staff, Babs and our boys, are going to do every single thing possible to capitalize when it counts.”
Korea 3 Italy 2 SO
USA 5 Canada 2
Noon – USA vs. Italy.
7 p.m. – Canada vs. Korea.
1 p.m. – Bronze medal game.
4 p.m. – Gold medal game.