Greg Westlake paces Canada in world sledge hockey challenge opener
Captain's power-play goal, assist highlight win over Russia
The Canadians went into their first game at the world sledge hockey challenge on Sunday with a plan in mind — attack early.
They did just that, scoring three times in the first period en route to a 5-1 preliminary-round victory over Russia in front of a home crowd at the Lunenburg County Lifestyle Centre in Bridgewater, N.S.
"We always like to get off to a good start," said Canada's head coach Ken Babey. "Playing a very highly skilled, physically strong team like Russia, we wanted to get a jump on them and have them play catch up and it went our way because our guys stuck to a structure.
"A couple times in the second period we got off our game, they had some chances but they're going to have that, they're a good team."
We got off to a good start, scoring a couple goals off the get-go and that gave us some energy and tempo to carry on.- Canadian sledge hockey coach Ken Babey after his team's 5-1 tourney-opening win over Russia
Captain Greg Westlake had a power-play goal and an assist, opening the scoring just 41 seconds in.
Rob Armstrong and Tyler McGregor, while shorthanded, added a goal and a helper apiece for the Canadians (1-0) and Billy Bridges and Adam Dixon rounded out the attack.
"We're playing one of our national rivals and the guys were really excited to play in Bridgewater against Russia," Babey said. "We got off to a good start, scoring a couple goals off the get-go and that gave us some energy and tempo to carry on. Russia's a good team and they battled back hard but our guys stayed with it the rest of the game.
"Corbin Watson made some big saves in the second period that allowed us to preserve the victory."
Nikolai Terentev had the lone goal for Russia (0-1), spoiling Watson's shutout bid 7:59 into the third period.
The Canadian goaltender stopped seven of eight shots for the win.
Russia's Mikhail Ivanov allowed four goals on 10 shots through 10:09. Evgenii Plotnikov stopped six of seven shots the rest of the way.
Canada was 3-for-3 on the power play while the Russians failed to score on five chances with the man advantage.
The Canadians play South Korea in the four-team tournament on Monday while Russia plays the United States. The U.S. beat Korea 8-1 earlier Sunday.
"I thought tonight we had a good first period and good third period, but we need to have a good three periods of hockey so we continue to get better and that will be our challenge tomorrow," Babey said. "We need to play three periods at a high tempo."
The U.S. won gold at last year's tournament in Leduc, Alta., beating Russia in the final. Canada topped Korea for bronze.