CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – It might have looked like an ugly stepsister for most of the World Sledge Hockey Challenge (WSHC) semifinal on Thursday, but the United States 5-1 victory over Italy transformed into a Cinderella of a win.
America now seeks to land its prince in the form of a fourth straight WSHC gold medal when it laces up the sleds in the Saturday’s 4 p.m. final at MacLauchlan Arena.
United States forward Adam Page benefitted from Italy’s scrambly, collapse-around-the-net defensive game with two second-period goals, both coming off scrums around the net of Italian goalie Gabriele Araudo.
One goal slithered under Araudo, who misplayed it. The other was a fortuitous bounce-out Page roofed over Araudo’s right shoulder for a 4-0 edge.
But Page didn’t care about a pretty W.
“No, a win is a win. We came out hard (Wednesday versus Canada), but (Thursday) we laid back a little bit. It’s still good to get the win,” said Page. “Just going to relax and enjoy this… and come to the rink (Friday for practice) and get back to the things we did right in the Canadian game and go hard.”
The States reached this point after a solid 5-2 win over Canada in the last game of the preliminary round Wednesday leading to the top-seeded Americans (3-0) facing fourth-seeded Italy (0-3).
Italy’s plan jammed up the United States for much of the game and kept its speed mostly contained. Mostly, though, was enough for Brody Roybal to shoot past the Italian defence caught in a bad change to score the game’s first goal just 1:12 in.
Eleven minutes later Josh Misiewicz made it 2-0 by capitalizing on a botched Italian clearing attempt and rocketed a shot past Araudo.
Then came Page’s goals in the second and America was up 4-0 after two.
But Italy showed a bit of its own speed in the third, resulting in a sweet goal from the left slot by Sandro Kalegaris, who beat goalie Jen Lee over the right shoulder at 4:46.
Four minutes later U.S. forward Declan Farmer completed a nice, two-pass rush with Roybal and Kevin McKee by netting his sixth goal of the tourney, making it 5-1 and closing out the scoring.
Italy enters the bronze medal game Saturday, at 1 p.m., against Canada or Korea.
In the prelims, Italy lost to Canada 8-0 and dropped a 3-2 decision in a shootout to Korea, and that after holding a 2-0 in the second period.
For Kalegaris, Thursday’s strategy worked but the Americans were just a better team.
“That’s the only way you can play against them. Play defence and wait for our chances,” said Kalegaris,
adding Korea is preferable if Italy wants a bronze. “It would be a big step for us… a good step for our team. If we play (Korea) like the first two periods (in the preliminary contest) it would be no problem. We fell asleep in the second period. (It’s) not always easy to hold a two-goal lead.”
A look at Thursday’s World Sledge Hockey Challenge semifinal game at MacLauchlan Arena.
United States 5.
United States: Adam Page 2 (3), Brody Roybal (5), Declan Farmer (6), Josh Misiewicz (2).
Italy: Sandro Kalegaris (1).
United States: Niko Landeros 2 (4), Josh Pauls 2 (4), Declan Farmer 2 (7), Noah Grove (3), Brody Roybal (5), Kevin McKee (4).
Italy: Gianluigi Rosa (1).
United States: Jen Lee, 7-of-8, win (2-0).
Italy: Gabriele Araudo, 19-of-24, loss (0-2).
Players of the Games
United States: Adam Page.
Italy: Christopher De Paoli.
By The Numbers
Shots By Period
United States: 7-9-8, 24.
Italy: 4-2-2, 8.
United States: 4.
United States: 0-for-3.