Canada thumps Japan in World Sledge Hockey semis
After leading Canada to a 10-0 win over Japan, Greg Westlake was more excited about earning the opportunity to play in front of a national television audience in the World Sledge Hockey Challenge final.
The native of Oakville, Ont., scored a pair of short-handed goals and added three assists against Japan in semifinal action Thursday at the Markin McPhail Centre.
"I just can't wait to play [in the final] on Saturday," said Westlake, who serves as Canada's captain. "We get one game a year on TV."
Canada will now battle the United States in the tournament final. The U.S. downed Norway 4-1 earlier Thursday to earn the other berth.
"We don't like each other, that's fine," said Westlake of the rivalry against the Americans. "They might be decent guys, but they're between me and some goals that I've set for myself. They're in the way of what we want, so we've got to go through them."
Canadian coach Mike Mondin said Westlake did a great job of motivating his teammates prior to a 4-1 preliminary round win over the U.S. on Wednesday.
"He did a real good job in the dressing room of keeping the guys nice and loose so they weren't real tensed going up going into the game," Mondin said. "That was a big part of our success."
Canada jumped out to a 3-0 lead after one period against Japan and added seven more goals in the second to cruise to an easy victory.
"We came here to get into the gold-medal game, so we got that opportunity," Mondin said.
Westlake's linemates Dominic Larocque and Brad Bowden both had two goals and one assist during the win over Japan.
Larocque stressed that he and his teammates will have to be ready for a tough battle against the U.S. on Saturday.
"They're our biggest rival," said Larocque, who was chosen as Canada's player of the game. "It's a hard game every time against the U.S."
Defenceman Adam Dixon had a goal and three assists against Japan, while Kevin Rempel and Billy Bridges each scored once and set up two others.
1st career goal
Tyler McGregor scored his first-ever goal for Team Canada.
"We had a guy on our team who got his first career goal today," Westlake said. "That was a lot of fun. You feel bad celebrating on the 10th goal, but we were really happy for him. He's worked so hard to get to where he is now."
Canadian goalie Benoit St-Amand made five saves to record the shutout.
Mitsuru Nagase was much busier at the other end of the ice as he stopped 26-of-36 shots he faced in the Japanese net.
Westlake opened the scoring at 8:12 of the opening period while Canadian forward Kieran Block was serving a holding penalty. Just 16 seconds later, Larocque counted another short-handed goal before Bridges scored late in the first to put Canada up 3-0.
Dixon, Rempel and Larocque scored early in the second period before Bowden had back-to-back goals to extend Canada's lead to 8-0.
After Bowden's second goal at 10:01 of the middle period, Westlake scored his second of the game just 40 seconds later. Both goals were scored while Canada was shorthanded.
McGregor scored with one minute to go in the second, before the teams battled to a scoreless third period.
Earlier in the day, Daniel McCoy had two goals for the Americans in their win against Norway, while Josh Pauls and Kevin McKee also scored. Jan Roger Klakegg counted the lone goal for Norway, which will battle for bronze against Japan on Saturday.