USA blanks Canada 3-0 in sledge hockey semifinals in Sochi
'A real heart-breaking loss,' Canadian goalie says
Team USA scored twice in the first period of its sledge hockey semifinal game against Canada on Thursday and didn't look back.
The goals, scored by Declan Farmer, came at 9:12 and 14:04. The U.S. scored again less than five minutes into the second period, its third goal in just four shots. This time it was Joshua Pauls off a pass by the indomitable Farmer, at 16 a sure representative of the American team's youth.
Canada had a chance to come back in the second period after American forward Rico Roman got a two-minute penalty for interference.
But though the Canadians were buzzing, even into the third period, they just couldn't beat U.S. goalie Steve Cash, who stopped all 11 shots on goal — the lowest number of shots by Canada in the tournament. It had 31 against Sweden, 23 against Norway and 19 against the Czech Republic in preliminary play.
"It's one of the most important games that we've ever played," Cash said afterwards. "I can't thank [my team] enough for the effort they put out in front of me. We played the game of our lives from top to bottom."
In the third period, the Americans kept up the pressure, chasing the Canadians into the corners and pressing them against the boards.
Officials called off a goal by Billy Bridges with just seconds left in the game because teammate Kevin Rempel was in the crease.
Canadian goalie Corbin Watson had a solid third period, blocking five shots in the third period, but called the game "a real heart-breaking loss."
"The bounces didn't go our way," said Watson, who'd come into the game with the highest save percentage of the tournament. "It was a tough night and it was tough to see pucks. I wish I could have some of those bounces back."
"We forced things tonight," Greg Westlake, Canada's captain, said. "We didn't make calm passes. You have to have fast hands and a calm mind, and we didn't have that today and you can't do that once you get to an elimination game because the margin for error is so small."
"Today wasn't due to lack of effort. We played hard, we skated hard.
"We lost fair and square," he added. "[The Americans are] young, they're fast and they're going to be a good team for a long time."
The Americans will have a chance to defend their 2010 Paralympic gold medal when they play Russia in the gold medal game at noon ET on Saturday. Canada will play Norway for the bronze on Saturday at 5 a.m. ET. (Both games will stream live on cbc.ca/paralympics.)
With files from the Paralympic News Service