If the host Canadians are to come away with the title in the Canadian Tire Para Hockey Cup, they’re likely going to have to come up with back-to-back wins against teams that have defeated them so far in the international tourney being played at the Paradise Double Ice Complex.
Canada finished with a 1-1-1 preliminary-round record in the four-team event with a 4-1 loss to the defending champion United States Wednesday night.
That sets up a semifinal game against Russia 7 p.m. tonight in Paradise. The Russians were 2-1-0 in the round-robin after blanking the Czech Republic 10-0 Wednesday afternoon.
Russia had edged Canada 3-2 in overtime in their preliminary-round meeting on Monday.
The Americans, who have scored 15 goals and given up just one en route to three wins, will take on the Czechs in the other semifinal, set for noon today at the Double Ice Complex.
The Czech Republic (0-3) has yet to score so far in the tourney.
On Wednesday night, Declan Farmer scored twice, and Kevin McGee and Rico Roman had singletons for the Americans in their victory. Noah Grove chipped in with three assists for the winners.
Canadian captain Tyler McGregor had the lone goal for his side, set up by St. John’s native Liam Hickey and former captain Greg Westlake.
Farmer and McGregor are tied with Russia Evgenii Petrov for the preliminary scoring lead, each with six points.
Hickey has four points (2G, 2A) through three games.
McGregor’s second-period tally made the score 2-1, but McKee scored early in the third period and Farmer added an empty-netter in the late going for the United States, which outshot Canada 17-11.
Despite the loss, the game was a memorable one for Canada’s Branden Sison, playing his first game against the defending Paralympic champion Americans.
“It was honestly one of the most fun games of para hockey I have ever played,” said the Edmonton native. “The pace was so high, and I really enjoyed it. Even though we lost, there are a lot of lessons I can learn to continue to improve as a player.
“I was so proud of the opportunity to get a chance to play them, and I’m excited to play them again.”