Canada continues para hockey domination in Pyeongchang
Canadians have outscored opponents 27-0 in opening 2 games
Canada's para hockey team is on a roll.
After running up the score 17-0 against Team Sweden in the opener, Canada again delivered another dominant performance against Team Italy Sunday in Pyeongchang, winning 10-0.
"I thought the guys played pretty well considering Italy is a more physical, bigger team than our opponent [Sweden]. It was a good challenge for our guys. It's nice for some players like James Dunn, Ben Delaney, and Dominic Cozzolino chip in with our offence when we needed them," said Team Canada coach Ken Babey.
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Through its first two games, Canada has shown a balanced approach to its offence. Against Sweden on Saturday, nine different players scored goals in the lopsided victory. Six different players played a part in Canada's dominant scoring performance against Italy — including four assists by Delaney.
Dunn comes up big
Dunn, who at 17 years old is the youngest member of Canada's Paralympic team, scored his first two goals at a Paralympic Games – one of them short-handed in the third period.
Diagnosed with cancer at just 10, Dunn had part of his leg amputated back in 2012. While in the hospital, he was introduced to para ice hockey by his now-teammate Tyler McGregor.
Babey has been excited with Dunn's progress so far in his inaugural Paralympics. He was quick to credit Dunn's puck-handling and ability to create a play.
"He's a young player that brings a lot of enthusiasm and energy....we're excited how James has progressed and we see him getting better every game," Babey said.
Since joining the Team Canada, Dunn has leaned on the experience of his teammates — many of whom are returning medallists from previous Paralympic Games. McGregor — who is also a cancer survivor — has been proud of how far his teammate and friend has come since their initial meeting five years ago.
"He's a young guy but it's amazing because one of the best parts of his game is his composure. We saw that with both of his goals tonight," McGregor said.
Dunn also had four assists in his previous game against Team Sweden. Along with Dunn's high-energy level, his teammates also credit his ability to stay patient with the puck.
"He's only going to get better," McGregor said.
McGregor reaches milestone
In Saturday's game against Sweden, McGregor scored four times, including his 100th goal as a member of Canada's national team. But McGregor did not realize his accomplishment until he checked his phone after the game.
"This is my sixth year playing for the national team and I've had very good teammates around me…this doesn't happen without them," McGregor said.
McGregor added yet another goal against Italy, but also risked facing disciplinary action after a crushing hit to the head of Italian defenseman Gianluigi Rosa. He was given a 10-minute misconduct penalty late in the third period, which took him out of the game. McGregor won't face any subsequent disciplinary action.
Canada will need McGregor, along with his teammates to keep the offence going as it faces stiffer competition in the week ahead.
But McGregor has been pleased with his team's performance.
"We did a lot of things right over the over the first two games and I couldn't ask for a better start to the Paralympics," said McGregor.
As Canada approaches a quick turnaround it their final preliminary game against Team Norway Monday morning at 2:30 a.m. ET the team's goalies (Dominic Larocque, Corbin Watson) have yet to be truly tested.
Facing just two shots against Sweden and only four in Sunday's game, the Canadians will need their goalies to stay sharp heading into the semifinals on Thursday.
Babey believes his team must also stay within their routine to win the gold medal.
"We have to stay with our approach, structure and our game and continue to play our style of play which we focus on — playing fast, as a team, and playing smarter. We feel that if we continue with those themes and structure and team approach we'll have success," Babey said.
And for a Canadian team that is hungry for its first Paralympic title since the Torino 2006 Paralympics, the players know success won't come easy.