He is one of the six youngest players on the 20-man roster, but make no mistake about it, Liam Hickey is a veteran of the national men’s para hockey team.
The 21-year-old from St. John’s has been part of the national-team program for more than five years and a fixture on the national men’s senior side for the past three seasons. Hickey has been an offensive force in international competition, averaging more than a point-and-a-half per game for Canada, with 59 points in 37 games, including 11 in five contests at the 2018 Winter Paralympic Games in South Korea, where Canada claimed the silver medal.
He’s been wearing an assistant captain’s letter and he’s proven versatile, moving back to defence from forward at the behest of his coaches.
It’s all made Hickey what could be deemed a high-profile player, but that profile has been raised even higher this week as the national team has been in metro St. John’s preparing for the 2019 Canadian Tire Para Hockey Cup, which begins Sunday at the Paradise.
The four-team tournament, which used to be known as the World Sledge Hockey Challenge, also features the national teams of the Czech Republic, Russia and the defending Olympic champion United States.
It’s the sixth time the event has been played in Atlantic Canada, but the first time in Newfoundland.
Russia and the United States open preliminary-round play noon on Sunday. The tournament begins with a single round-robin, with games Sunday, Monday and Wednesday (Tuesday is a break day), with preliminary play concluding with the much-anticipated match-up between the Americans and Canadians Wednesday night.
The U.S. not only defeated Canada in the 2018 Olympic final, but also in the gold-medal game of the 2019 world championships in the Czech Republic.
The first playoff games are Thursday, leading to medal games next Saturday.
Tickets for the event can be purchased online at hockeycanada.ca/tickets or in person at the Paradise Double Ice Complex box office from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today.
The preliminary-round schedule for 2019 Canadian Tire Para Hockey Cup in Paradise (all games at the Paradise Double Ice Complex):
Noon — Russia vs United States
5 p.m. — Canada vs Czech Republic
Noon — United States vs Czech Republic
7 p.m. — Russia vs Canada
Noon — Czech Republic vs Russia
7 p.m. — Canada vs United States