The USA won its second consecutive gold medal at the Para Ice Hockey Women’s World Challenge on Sunday (3 September) with a 2-0 win over Canada in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Americans went undefeated once again at the tournament, capping it off with a feisty final affair that showcased big hits from both sides between the arch rivals.
“It was a classic Canada versus USA rivalry,” said defender Lera Doederlein, who led all skaters at the tournament with eight points, including three goals and five assists. “The teams were really chippy and had a lot of a lot of energy between the two which made for a really good matchup.”
The US outscored its opponents 19-0 in four games in Green Bay, with both Doederlein and captain Kelsey DiClaudio scoring in the final.
“I’m ecstatic about the way that we played this game going undefeated and not allowing any goals on net,” Doederlein said. “This is a chance for us to show the next generation across the country and the world that Para ice hockey is here to stay and here to grow.”
American Catherine Faherty nearly struck first in the gold-medal game with 10 seconds to go in the opening period, but her shot racketed off the post and just failed to bounce in, leaving it scoreless at the first intermission.
It then took DiClaudio less than three minutes in the second period to find the net, skating around a pile of players at the crease for a successful sharp shot to the back of the net. In the third period, Doederlein scored on a breakaway for her third goal of the tournament, guaranteeing the victory for Team USA.
The US finished with 25 shots on goal, as Hope Bevilhymer recorded the shutout in the net. “It is hard to top the first win at the World Challenge, but the energy from the start to the finish here this year was incredible,” DiClaudio said. “Whether it be a camp, World Challenge or World Championships, we are always going to be here knowing that we are fighting for a spot to grow this game.”
Canada left with a second Women’s World Challenge silver medal behind the leadership of forwards Alannah Mah and Raphaelle Tousignant.
“We trusted our preparation and gave them everything we could,” said Mah, the team captain. “Ultimately we came up short in this game, but it was tooth and nail and we were right there and I’m very proud of everyone on this team.”
Goaltender Jessie Gregory had 23 saves for Canada in the final, and led all netminders at the competition with 45 total saves.
Team World won the bronze-medal contest for the second straight year with a 7-0 victory against Great Britain, as five different players scored, including a hat trick from Ailin Zheng and the first goal of the tournament for Meika Fujiwara.
Last month, Fujiwara of Japan attended the World Para Ice Hockey Skills Development Camp presented by Citi in Bangkok, Thailand, where she was one of more than 30 players who had the opportunity to refine her on-ice skills and take part in daily video analysis of the sport to help grow her game.
“In Thailand, we had Coach Espen Hegde as well, and I started using more intelligence rather than feeling to play there, so experimenting on the ice there really helped me grow as a player here in Green Bay,” said Fujiwara.
“We won the bronze medal again this year, but this year is different as we had more players from more countries on Team World, and I’m very happy we could do this again while growing the sport.”
Lena Schroeder, Rachel Steffen and Dina Grinberga also scored in Team World’s bronze-medal victory as they outshot Great Britain, 23-7. It was Schroeder’s tournament-leading fifth goal in Green Bay.
Three different goaltenders — Mirenda Reast, Lynsey Warne and Elisabeth Bisaillon — combined for 16 saves in the shoutout for Team World, while Nicole Jodi Hill had seven saves for Great Britain.
There were 67 women total participating in this year’s event, which also had an all-women officiating crew at the Cornerstone Community Center.
Citi served as the presenting sponsor of the event as part of the IPC’s PARA SPORT grassroots to high performance programme. The ultimate goal is to expand female participation in Para ice hockey worldwide and one day add it to the Paralympic Winter Games programme.
Source : Paralympic