Declan Farmer (Tampa, Fla.) scored twice and Steve Cash (Overland, Mo.) turned aside 10 shots to lead the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team past Canada, 3-1, to open the 2019 Para Ice Hockey World Championship here at Ostravar Arena.
"It's always nice to start a tournament like this with a win," said David Hoff (Bottineau, N.D.), head coach of the 2018-19 U.S. National Sled Hockey Team. "It wasn't our perfect game by any means, but fortunately our compete level was there tonight and that was the difference. We'll rest up, focus on some areas we can improve and turn our attention towards another strong team tomorrow in South Korea."
The U.S. (1-0-0-0/W-OTW-OTL-L) returns to action tomorrow (April 28) when it takes on South Korea. Puck drop at Ostravar Arena is set for 4:30 p.m. local time (10:30 a.m. ET) and will be broadcast live in the United States on the Olympic Channel.
The opening period featured both teams generate high-quality scoring chances, but neither were able to convert through the first 15 minutes of play.
The first half of the stanza saw the U.S. execute a trio of defensive efforts, starting with a pair of strong back-checking efforts from Declan Farmer (Tampa, Fla.) and Travis Dodson (Deming, N.M.) that dismissed a pair of Canadian scoring chances. Cash was then called upon with a pair of blocker saves to keep the score, 0-0, as the teams entered the first intermission.
The middle period opened with Greg Westlake giving Canada an early 1-0 lead when he tucked a loose puck into the left corner past Cash.
The lead was shortlived, however, as Farmer responded just 2:05 later on a shorthanded breakaway tally. The play started with an initial breakaway by Brody Roybal (Northlake, Ill.) whose short-side effort was denied by Canadian goaltender Dominic Larocque. As Canada tried to clear the puck, Farmer stole the puck at the blue line, sliced through the defense and slipped a right-handed effort past the outstretched pad of Larocque for a 1-1 game.
Just two minutes later, Noah Grove (Frederick, Md.) gave the U.S. a 2-1 lead when he scored on a two-man breakaway. The play started with Chris Douglas (St. Cloud, Fla.) carrying the puck alone into the zone and causing Larocque to freeze before backhanding the puck across the crease for a tap-in goal by Grove.
With the U.S. controlling play, Roybal and Josh Hargis (Colorado Springs, Colo.) nearly made it 3-1 on a nice give-and-go play. After breaking into Canada's zone, Roybal drew the defender towards him before deflecting the puck with the pick-end of his stick towards the slot for a trailing Hargis to rifle a shot off the post and away from goal.
The final period saw the U.S. generate a trio of breakaway opportunities, but none were able to convert before an empty-net tally by Farmer with five seconds to play accounted for the 3-1 final.
NOTES: Noah Grove was named the U.S. Player of the Game after tallying the game-winning goal ... The U.S. outshot Canada, 14-11, went 0-for-2 on the powerplay and 3-for-3 on the penalty kill. For complete stats, click here ... Labatt USA and Toyota are proud sponsors of the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team ... Dan Brennan (Colorado Springs, Colo.), director of sled national teams for USA Hockey, is serving as the general manager of the 2018-19 U.S. National Sled Hockey Team ... For complete coverage of the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team, click here.
|Date||Opponent||Result||U.S. Player of the Game||Venue||Broadcast|
|April 27||Canada||W, 3-1||Noah Grove||Ostravar Arena||Olympic Channel - Live|
|April 28||South Korea||W, 4-0||Josh Pauls||Ostravar Arena||Olympic Channel - Live|
|April 30||Norway||W, 10-0||Luke McDermott||Ostravar Arena||Olympic Channel - Live|
|May 3||Czech Republic
|W, 10-2||Jack Wallace||Ostravar Arena||Olympic Channel - Live|
|OTW, 3-2||Declan Farmer||Ostravar Arena||Olympic Channel - Live
NBCSN (5:30 p.m. ET)