© Hockey Canada Images
Billy Bridges played for Canadhe world sledge hockey championships.
TORONTO, Ontario — Captain Greg Westlake stressed the importance of not allowing success get to their head following Canada’s 3-1 sledge hockey victory over the United States Saturday.
The win gives Canada its fifth title at the World Sledge Hockey Challenge.
“We’ve got to keep pushing,” said Westlake, who led Canada with five goals in the tournament. “The second you let off the pedal, everyone catches up.”
Canada got goals from Adam Dixon, Summerside, P.E.I.’s Billy Bridges and Westlake to open a 3-0 after 20 minutes and never looked back.
Josh Pauls scored for the U.S. in the second.
Canada got out to an early 2-0 lead in Thursday’s semi final victory over South Korea and held on for a win, an experience they learned from entering the gold medal game.
“There were lessons that we learned during the week, said Canadian head coach, Mike Mondin. ”We put that all into practice today so it was good to see that the team learned from their mistakes.“
Added Westlake: “It was a lot more complete effort tonight. We won a couple games this week that we could’ve lost. We won a couple games that felt like losses.”
Canada previously won the event twice in 2011, in 2008 and in 2007. Canada claimed silver at the 2009 and 2012 events.
The Americans have won three bronze medals at the World Sledge Hockey Challenge, to go along with gold in 2012 and in 2009. The U.S. won silver in November 2011.
“We played Canada twice, I thought we played with them four of the six periods,” said American head coach, Jeff Sauer. “We played a poor first period against them (Wednesday) night and we played a poor first period tonight.
“Other than that, I thought we were pretty even.”
Dixon opened the scoring at 9:03 of the first period when his point shot deflected off an American and beat Steve Cash for his third goal.
Canada then scored twice in a 32 second span to take a 3-0 lead.
Bridges made it 2-0 with a wrist shot, which beat Cash top corner, for his third of the tournament at 12:23.
Then at 12:55, Westlake tipped in a Brad Bowden shot.
Pauls got the Americans on the board at 5:51 of the second with his fourth of the tournament.
Cash made six saves in the loss while Corbin Watson stopped 11 American shots.
Canada finished first in the preliminary round going 3-0 including wins over South Korea (5-2), Russia (5-3) and the U.S. (4-1). The Americans were second following preliminary round action, with wins over Russia (2-1) and South Korea (5-0), their lone loss coming to the Canadians Wednesday.
The World Sledge Hockey Challenge, which has been played in Canada since 2007, marks the final international tournament prior to the 2014 Paralympics in Sochi, Russia.
Canada and the U.S. will play a three-game exhibition in January in North Carolina as a final tune-up for the Paralympics.