MOOSE JAW, Sask. – Declan Farmer (Tampa, Fla.) and Brody Roybal (Northlake, Ill.) tallied hat tricks while Malik Jones (Aurora, Colo.) scored twice, as the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team defeated China 10-2 in the 2023 World Para Ice Hockey Championship semifinals at the Moose Jaw Events Centre.
Team USA will play the winner of the Canada-Czechia semifinal game in the gold medal game tomorrow at 9:00 p.m. ET. The gold medal game will be live streamed on the Paralympics YouTube and Facebook page.
With the win, the U.S. moves to 4-0-0-0 (W-OTW-OTL-L) on the tournament and 15-2-0-0 (W-OTW-OTL-L) on the season.
“We talk a lot about being hard to play against both offensively” said David Hoff (Bottineau, N.D.), head coach of the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team, “I thought we did a really good job tonight of defending hard in numbers tonight”.
Just 55 seconds into the game the U.S. jumped out to a 1-0 lead, when Ben Musselman (Amelia, Ohio) rifled a wrist shot from the point for his first goal of the tournament with an assist from Jack Wallace (Franklin lakes, N.J.).
Less than two minutes later, Malik Jones (Aurora, Colo.) collected a pass from Declan Farmer (Tampa, Fla.) in the slot and wristed a shot top shelf to give the U.S. a 2-0 lead just 2:25 into the contest. With 9:12 to go in the first, Farmer went bar down to give the U.S. a three-goal lead.
China cut the lead to two at 5:12 when LI Hong Guan scored on a shot from the slot to make it 3-1.
Team USA answered right back with another tally shortly before the end of the period. With 1:19 remaining when Josh Pauls (Green Brook, N.J.) fed Jones at the right faceoff dot, who fired a one-time shot for his second goal of the game. The assist was the 100th of Pauls’ career, making him just the third player in U.S. National Sled Hockey team history to reach that milestone.
Kevin McKee (Davenport, Iowa) opened the scoring in the second period three minutes in, cutting hard towards the crease and pushing a feed from David Eustace (Stoneham, Mass.) over the line for his first goal of the tournament.
Just over a minute later, Farmer picked up his second of the game to make it 6-1. Brody Roybal (Northlake, Ill.) scored twice in the final two minutes of the second frame, going top shelf from the top of the circle to put the U.S. up 7-1, then burying a back door pass from Farmer after a nice cross-ice feed from Chris Douglas (St. Cloud, Fla.) to make it an 8-1 game heading into the break.
Just 59 seconds into the third, Farmer completed his second hat trick of the tournament, with assists from Jones and Noah Grove (Frederick, Md.). Less than a minute later, Roybal buried his third goal of the game to complete a hat trick as well.
Griffin LaMarre (Haverhill, Mass.) entered the game in the U.S. net for Jen Lee (San Francisco, Calif.) with 10:45 to go in the contest after 34:15 of action for Lee. Mid-way through the third, LaMarre made a sprawling save on a breakaway for China.
China scored final goal of the contest with 3:23 remaining to make it a 10-2 game.
NOTES: Malik Jones (Aurora, Colo.) was named the U.S. Player of the Game … The U.S. outshot China 25-7 … The U.S. was 0-1 on the power play, while China did not have a power play.