A balanced battle of the giants did not take place: the USA overshot Canada and took the win with a result of 6:1

After analysing the strength of the world’s first and second top teams in para hockey, i.e. the USA and Canada at the IPH CUP 2023 tournament, a very balanced fight was expected. But the first period already showed that the American para hockey players currently have a huge advantage over all other teams. Overall, they outshot Canada 39-8 and took another three points into the International Para Hockey Cup 2023 standings.

Canadian captain McGregor got the first great chance of the match in the very first minute, but he had goalkeeper LaMarre in the way, who was ready in the right place. The next five minutes brought balanced battles between the two teams, but they were unable to work their way to a better chance. After that, however, the Americans clearly started to dominate the ice. Especially when at 5:29 the USA para hockey players got their first numerical advantage after a foul by Auren Halbert. Declan Farmer, who was in a shooting mood today, went for the puck drop. Wallace’s subsequent fierce shot travelled the length of the goal area as it went behind Kingsmill but didn’t go past the line. The game was then delayed just behind the goal of the Canadian goalkeeper, who was later checked again by Farmer, the most active player of the first act. Despite his efforts though, Canada managed the first short-handed play. The Americans were definitely the more active ones on the ice in the following minutes, and the Canadians had a problem getting the puck out of their defensive zone at all. Canada got a chance to threaten LaMarre’s goal after Bolton’s foul, however, even the power play of the Maple Leafs seemed more like the superiority of the Americans. The USA team was definitely the one who continued to dictate the tempo of the game! In addition, Declan Farmer pushed for another goal finish even in the short-handed state but Kingsmill was saved by the bar of his goal – and it wasn’t the last time in this duel. Canada did not come up with a more emphatic action in the power play and the third period was closed by an independent action by the American forward Jones, but his shot was caught by the monitor behind Kingsmill. The USA para hockey players surprisingly had a huge advantage on the ice in the first period. In the last minute, Canada also looked into the defensive zone of the USA team, but a pass to the rushing McGregor did not change the score, as the Canadian captain missed the goal with a sharp shot. The American goalkeeper didn’t even break a sweat in the first period of the match, with only two shots going at him.

As it was also in the match against the Czech Republic, the Canadian coaches shuffled the first five players in the second period against the Americans. But it did not bring more pressure as they anticipated. On the contrary, the para hockey players of the USA team started again with their strong pressure on their rival team. Roybal then immediately took a shot from an angle at Kingsmill. The United States moved into Canada’s defensive zone for the following minutes and Kingsmill had a lot of work on his hands. The second numerical advantage for the Americans came at 19:20, and Auren Halbert again headed for the penalty spot. However, his teammates approached the short-handed play consistently and did not allow the Americans to take a shot or finish. It seemed that Halbert wanted to make it up to his teammates and after returning to the ice, he immediately drove at LaMarre in a solo action, but the American goalie pushed him out of the ideal shooting position with a good move. Soon came another expulsion – McGregor took the next penalty and offered the Americans another chance to open the scoring. Just seven seconds later, Wallace truly did open the scoring with the 4th goal of the IPH CUP 2023 tournament when he hit the exact left corner of Kingsmil’s goal, making it 1-0. Auren Halber probably liked the penalty box the most in this game, where he went again for the third time at 23:34. The Americans also took advantage of this power play. Again, just like Wallace, Declan Farmer headed into the corner of the goal from the opposite side of the ice and increased the score to 2-0. Less than two minutes before the end of the second period, a chance also came for Canada, when Roybal headed to the penalty box for a change. But Canada could not establish a purposeful attack and the game spilled from one side of the ice to the other. The score did not change even in the end of the second period of the match.

The third period was again dominated by the Americans. When Declan Farmer got to the puck at 31:33, he finally satisfied his hunger for a goal. He went around Kingsmill from the left side of the goal and between the scrum of players he finished flawlessly, making it 3-0. The helplessness of the Canadians was soon amplified by Brody Roybal, who a minute later added another flawless shot behind Kingsmill making the score 4:0. However, after a mistake by the Americans in the middle zone, the Canadians finally prevailed. The puck was won by Cozzolino in the corner and he sent an easy pass to Tyler McGregor. The Canadian captain made no mistake and reduced the score to 4:1 at 36:01. The American forward Nichols also wanted to get on the score sheet, but this time the top post of the Canadian goal stood in the way of a score change. The fight between the two overseas rivals gradually escalated, resulting in expulsions on both sides. The Americans obviously liked the four-on-four play, where Kingsmill was first saved by the top post of his goal after a shot by Farmer, which was however followed by Roybal’s cannon into the upper left corner of the Canadian goal, making it 5:1. Nonetheless, even this result was not yet final. Ben Musselman sent the next shot at Kingsmill at 41:57 and again shot at the upper left corner of the Canadian goal. The score 6:1 was then definitive and the USA team once again demonstrated its clear para hockey world dominance.

For a complete photo gallery from the IPH CUP 2023, visit the Czech Para Hockey Flickr account.

The International Para Hockey Cup 2023 takes place with the support of the National Sports Agency, the Moravian-Silesian Region, the Statutory City of Ostrava and partners Kaufland and Komerční banka.

Text: Zuzana Glacová Translation: Adela Katy Dawson Photos: Radim Horák/ Vladimír Pryček