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Paralympic Recap: United States 5, Canada 0

Larocque made 15 saves as Canada finished with the silver medal in Beijing

March 13, 2022

GAME STATISTICS | LIVE GAME BLOG

BEIJING, China Canada’s Paralympic Hockey Team finished with a silver medal at the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games after falling 5-0 to the United States in the gold medal game on Sunday.

• Liam Hickey (St. John’s, N.L.) led all Canadian skaters in shots on goal (four) and time on ice (35:01).
• Billy Bridges (Summerside, P.E.I.) and Greg Westlake (Oakville, Ont.) recorded two shots apiece.
• Dominic Larocque (Quebec City, Que.) made 15 saves.
The United States outshot Canada 20-16.
 Captain Tyler McGregor (Forest, Ont.) was Canada’s leading scorer, finishing eighth in tournament scoring with eight points (5-3—8).
• Adam Dixon (Midland, Ont.) led Canada during the tournament in average time on ice (26:34), plus/minus (+6) and assists (five).

Quotes:
“I am very proud of our team and our staff. I am proud of the effort of all 17 players on our roster, and I am grateful for all the Canadians that supported us both in Beijing and back home. It is a tough loss, but we can look at the big picture and appreciate the process and sacrifices we made to be in this position to represent our country. At the end of the day, we played hard and gave it our best, but unfortunately it did not go our way today.”
- Head coach Ken Babey (Calgary, Alta.) on the gold medal game

“It is always difficult to lose in a gold medal game. After everything our team has been through over the past four years, and especially over the past two years, we never stopped believing in each other. I could not be more proud of every player in our locker room, as well as our entire staff, for the work we have put in to get to this point. It is tough to fall short of a Paralympic gold medal, but we need to hold our heads high and be proud of the way we competed and represented Canada.”
- McGregor on the belief amongst his team

“It is an honour to wear the Maple Leaf, and despite not getting gold today, I cannot say enough good things about this team and the way we have improved the last four years. We have gone through an incredible journey to get to this moment, and every single person on our team is so deserving of this medal. It may not be the medal we hoped for, but we can be very proud of the fact that we all stepped up to the best of our ability to make contributions both on and off the ice. I am just so proud of the entire team.”
- Westlake on winning silver

For more information on Hockey Canada and Canada’s Paralympic Hockey Team, please visit HockeyCanada.ca, or follow through social media on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Leaving a legacy and passing the torch

After 19 years representing his country, para hockey veteran Greg Westlake is retiring after Beijing 2022, but his passion and advocacy for the sport will live on

Shannon Coulter
|
March 11, 2022

With an intensive training schedule and the sole focus of achieving their goal to take home a gold medal, the little moments athletes experience on their road to the Paralympics can easily blur together.

But for Greg Westlake, who is participating in his fifth Paralympic Winter Games, he’s taking the opportunity to soak in every moment. That’s because the 19-year veteran of Canada’s National Para Hockey Team has announced that he will be retiring at the end of Beijing 2022.

“I’m really happy that I came out ahead of it and said that this was going to be my last one,” Westlake says. “It’s kind of freed me up and allowed me to really just enjoy all the little things.”

The realization that he is nearing the end of his career really sunk in a few days before Canada’s Paralympic Hockey Team left for Beijing. After the team’s last practice in Calgary, the gravity of the moment hit the 35-year-old while he was in the dressing room.

“It was my last ice time in Canada,” he says. “The practice ended, and I was just sitting there like ‘I don’t know when I’m going to play hockey in Canada again.’”

Beijing 2022 ties a bow on an accomplished career with Team Canada. Westlake joined the para hockey program in 2003 and has played as a goaltender, a defenceman and a forward. He won gold at his first Paralympic Games in 2006 and has since won two more Paralympic medals: bronze in 2014 and silver in 2018.

At the beginning of the 2010-11 season, Westlake was named captain and served in that role for eight years. In IPC World Para Hockey Championship action, he has won three gold medals (2008, 2013, 2017), two silver (2015, 2019) and two bronze (2009, 2012).

On top of those accolades, Westlake was honoured with leading Team Canada into the Opening Ceremony of Beijing 2022 as one of the country’s flag bearers. His eyes are set on winning gold in his final competition, but he also hopes to experience the Games from the perspective of his younger teammates.

“I want to live the Games through some other people's eyes a little bit, you know, the guys who it's their first time walking into an Opening Ceremony,” he says. “I think, for me, that's really fun and exciting. Seeing a 19-, 20-year-old kid just like, ‘Greg, aren't you excited about the opening ceremonies?’ You see that excitement; it makes you young again. It makes you feel like it's your first time and that really excites me.”

As a member of the national team for almost two decades, the Oakville, Ont., native has had the opportunity to be teammates with many para hockey players. As the team evolved, his leadership style also evolved to best serve his teammates. Looking back, Westlake says he was a boisterous, energy guy when he first joined the team, but he has a calmer approach now. He prefers conversations over coffee or being a source of advice.

“Every single team is different,” he says. “They’re going to have new dynamics, new wants and needs and things that it takes for that team to be successful. You got to be a bit of a chameleon, you got to be able to blend into where you’re needed most and do that role to the best of your ability. I try my best to do that.”

For younger players, like Branden Sison and Anton Jacobs-Webb, who looked up to Westlake as a role model, the ability to be teammates with him is an exciting opportunity.

“It's pretty surreal, to be honest,” says Sison, who was inspired watching Westlake on TV at the 2010 Paralympics in Vancouver. “You never really think you'll be seeing a guy on TV and then getting the chance to play with him on a line or as a D-pairing or whatever. But he's a really, really amazing player.”

As a teenager, Jacobs-Webb met Westlake at the Cruisers Cup in Brampton, Ont. After playing his games in the junior division, he watched Westlake compete in the elite division and stuck around after the game to have him sign a pair of gloves and take a photo together.

“It was kind of a big moment. I was pretty nervous,” Jacobs-Webb says. “My parents were like, ‘Yeah, go talk to him’ when I didn’t really want to. But I’m really happy I went to talk to him in the end.”

“He was a shy kid,” Westlake says of Jacobs-Webb. “What I enjoyed about meeting him was he was a fan of the sport, like he knew who I was.”

The teammates have come a long way since then, but the impact Westlake had on Jacobs-Webb while he dreamed of wearing the Maple Leaf as a kid remains to this day.

“Of course, we’re teammates, we’ve played together for four years, but there’s still a tiny bit [of me that] can’t get over it. It’s still Greg. I watched pretty much all of his YouTube videos,” Jacobs-Webb says. “He’s got a big name and it’s crazy to play with him.”

On the ice, Westlake is known for his competitive spirit and the way he grinds and battles for pucks. His ability to adapt throughout the years also stands out to his teammates.

“I compare him to LeBron James; he’s well-versed in the sport and he changes his game play throughout the years to adapt to the new style of play that we have,” Sison says. “It’s a very fast style of hockey nowadays. He’s been able to keep up with that throughout the years and change his style of play. Also going from defence to forward, he’s a very versatile player.”

A unique aspect of Canada’s Paralympic Hockey Team is the mix of veterans and rookies—Sison and Jacobs-Webb are among seven players making their Paralympic debuts in Beijing. With a veteran like Westlake closing the book on his para hockey career, it symbolizes a passing of the torch to the next generation.

“I don’t want to say goodbye to them just yet because they’re that valuable to us and to the team. But the next generation is coming, and we’re looking pretty strong,” Sison says. “I think they’ll be very proud of the direction that [Canada’s National Para Hockey Team] is going. I think they’re leaving it in good hands, and they’ll be happy with the results that we’re going to bring in the future.”

“I think it’s a great opportunity for us,” Jacobs-Webb adds. “We get a bit of mentorship, we get to follow their leadership and we get to learn a lot from them. By the time they’re gone, I think we’re going to be pretty well set. We have a good core.”

As for Westlake, he has already witnessed many advancements in the sport since he started playing. One positive change over the past two decades is the increase of athletes who can fully support themselves by playing para hockey.

“The biggest difference I see is more and more guys have the ability to make a living being an athlete representing their country and train full-time. That was something that in the past, it just wasn’t there,” he says. “When we can get to the point where every single guy on the team, this is what they do, that will be great.”

Another goal for Westlake is for para hockey to gain more exposure and garner more fans to continue to push the sport forward.

“I can only speak from my experience; I can’t speak for everyone. But as a kid growing up with two artificial legs, I never saw anybody that looked like me on TV. I never saw anybody in a prominent hockey role that looked like me,” Westlake says. “It was hard for me to have these goals and ambitions and dreams in hockey because I just didn’t think it was possible.

“When you look at 10 to 15 years down the road, I see more games on TV for us, not just one a year. I see way more advocacy, just more representation.”

Right now, Westlake is focused on finishing his career on a golden note in Beijing. After the Paralympics are done and his playing career is complete, he hopes to stay involved in the hockey world.

“I don’t know exactly what that is yet, but I love player development. I love scouting. I love the management side,” he says. “As it pertains to this program—anything, anytime. It’s a yes for me all day.”

His time wearing the Maple Leaf on his sweater may be complete, but his legacy in para hockey and his passion for the sport will live on.

“I just love the game. I love the team. It’s been my favourite thing since I was three years old and I get emotional talking about it,” he says. “I hope people know that in the times when it wasn’t the biggest sport in the world, I was there trying to do my best to promote it and trying to leave it in a better place than I found it.

“I just have a lot of love for the program. And I hope people know that.”

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Paralympics Preview: Canada vs. United States

Saturday, March 12 | 11:05 p.m. ET | Beijing, China | Gold Medal Game

March 11, 2022

TV: CBC | Stream: CBC.ca

Four years in the making, Canada’s Paralympic Hockey Team gets its rematch with the United States, looking to dethrone the three-time defending Paralympic gold medallists and return to the top of the podium for the first time since 2006.

LAST GAME

Canada faced off with South Korea in its semifinal, cruising to an 11-0 win. Tyler McGregor celebrated his birthday with four goals and two assists, Billy Bridges netted a hat trick to bring his career total to 199 goals and Liam Hickey added a goal and four helpers as the Canadians outshot the Koreans by a whopping 43-3 margin.

The Americans matched Canada’s offensive effort in their semifinal against host China, posting an 11-0 win of their own. Brody Roybal paced the offence with four goals and two assists, while Declan Farmer had two goals and four helpers. The U.S. outshot the Chinese 37-6.

LAST MEETING

Canada and the U.S. met in the prelim opener on March 5, and the Canadians managed just nine shots on goal in a 5-0 loss. Dominic Larocque made 17 saves through the first two periods before Adam Kingsmill came in for the third, making four stops. Farmer led the red, white and blue with a goal and three assists.

WHAT TO WATCH

The Canadian coaching staff has been making slight adjustments to the lineup throughout the Games, the most significant coming in the semifinal with Liam Hickey moved back to defence. The Newfoundlander spent most of the past two seasons on the back end before returning to forward this year, but the change seemed to work as Hickey put up five points in the first two periods against the Koreans. Offence was lacking in the opener against the U.S., will this move be enough to ignite it with gold on the line?

For the U.S., it begins and ends with Farmer. The overtime hero in the gold medal game four years ago, the 24-year-old has posted a tournament-leading 15 points in three games in Beijing – four against Canada, five against Korea and the six against China. Can he step up again when the stakes are highest?

A LOOK BACK

It’s the 107th meeting between the Canada and the United States as the Paralympics end the way they started.

Canada’s prelim loss dropped its record against its cross-border rivals to 0-4-1 at the Paralympics. That includes the heartbreaking OT defeat in 2018, and a 3-0 semifinal setback four years before that.

Dating back to those 2014 Games, Canada is 1-10 against its cross-border rivals in medal-round games. The lone win came in the gold medal game at the 2017 IPC World Para Hockey Championship, when Tyler McGregor scored twice in a 4-1 victory. Wins have been a little easier to come by in exhibitions or preliminary-round games, including the most recent 4-2 victory during a two-game series in St. Louis last October.

All-time record: Canada leads 59-46-1
Canada goals: 223
United States goals: 189

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Paralympic Recap: Canada 11, South Korea 0

McGregor had six points on his 28th birthday, leading Canada to a semifinal win over the Koreans

March 11, 2022

GAME STATISTICS | LIVE GAME BLOG

BEIJING, China Canada’s Paralympic Hockey Team has booked its ticket to the gold medal at the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games, defeating South Korea 11-0 in the semifinals on Friday.

• Tyler McGregor (Forest, Ont.) led the offence with four goals and two assists on his 28th birthday.
• Billy Bridges (Summerside, P.E.I.) recorded a hat trick to reach the 50-point plateau at the Paralympics and give him 199 career goals with Team Canada.
• Liam Hickey (St. John’s, N.L) chipped in with a goal and four assists.
• Garrett Riley (Brantford, Ont.) scored his first goal with Team Canada.
• Greg Westlake (Oakville, Ont.) and Anton Jacobs-Webb (Gatineau, Que.) rounded out the scoring.
• Dominic Larocque (Quebec City, Que.) made one save through the first two periods before giving way to Adam Kingsmill (Smithers, B.C.), who made two stops in the third.
Canada outshot South Korea 43-3.

Next Game:
Canada vs. United States or China (gold medal game) – Saturday, March 12 (11:05 p.m. ET/8:05 p.m. PT)

Quotes:
“We need to be consistent and keep doing what we have been doing. We need to rely on our defensive structure to shut down scoring opportunities from either team we could play in the gold medal game. When we shut other teams down defensively, we are able to create offence, and that is what we have been preaching to our players. For the most part, we have been very consistent with that, and we have continued to get better every day. We are excited for the chance to play for a Paralympic gold medal.”
- Head coach Ken Babey (Calgary, Alta.) on playing in the gold medal game

“I am proud of the way our group played today. We had contributions from everyone; even guys that will not show up on the scoresheet still made an impact by blocking shots and killing penalties. Everyone is feeling really good about themselves and about the team, and that is very important heading into a gold medal game. Regardless of the outcome of the second semifinal, we need to be prepared for a tough game and be ready to rise to the challenge.”
- McGregor on today’s performance

“At first I could not believe that [my shot] went in. It was such an unbelievable feeling to get my first goal, but an even better feeling to be going to the gold medal game. It means the world to me to be able to compete for gold. It has been a long journey, and this group has been resilient through everything the past four years, and I am excited that this team has this incredible opportunity in front of us.”
- Riley on scoring his first goal and playing for a gold medal

For more information on Hockey Canada and Canada’s Paralympic Hockey Team, please visit HockeyCanada.ca, or follow through social media on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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Paralympics Preview: Canada vs. South Korea

Thursday, March 10 | 11:05 p.m. ET | Beijing, China | Semifinal

March 10, 2022

TV: CBC | Stream: CBC.ca

Canada’s Paralympic Hockey Team will face a familiar foe as it takes on South Korea for the second time in four days at the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games, this time in the semifinals.

LAST GAME

Canada earned a bye to the semifinals with its 6-0 win over the Koreans to close out the preliminary round on Monday. James Dunn recorded scored a hat trick and added an assist to lead the bounce-back offensive performance the team needed after a shutout loss to the U.S. Liam Hickey, Billy Bridges and Tyler McGregor had the other Canadian goals, and Dominic Larocque made four saves for the shutout.

The Koreans moved into the semis with a 4-0 win over Italy in its quarterfinal. Dong Shin Jang opened the scoring just 3:30 in, Seung Hwan Jung added insurance late in the second period, and Jang and Jong Kyung Lee finished it off in the third to send the 2018 bronze medallists to the final four for the second Games in a row.

LAST MEETING

As noted above, Canada’s prelim finale came against the Koreans, a 6-0 win. Canada dominated from start to finish, outshooting the Asian side 36-4 and getting plenty of opportunities to work on its special teams.

WHAT TO WATCH

Is the Canadian offence back on track? Coming off its 5-0 loss to the U.S., Canada was anxious to get its big guns going against the Koreans. Hickey, Bridges and McGregor got into the act, and with Dunn continuing to show why he’s one of the best young players in the world, a repeat performance in the semifinals would give the Canadians plenty of momentum heading into a potential gold medal game.

Through the Koreans’ first three games, Lee has been the story. The goaltender made 26 stops in a tournament-opening loss to the Americans and was terrific against Canada in a 31-save effort. In the quarterfinal against Italy, he made three saves before giving way to Hyuk Jun Choi after the first period. Lee will need to be the Koreans’ best player again if they hope to spring the upset.

A LOOK BACK

This will be the 36th meeting between Canada and South Korea.

Canada handed the Koreans a semifinal loss on home ice in 2018 with a resounding 7-0 win. Four of the five Canadian goal scorers remain on the roster (Hickey, Greg Westlake, Bridges and McGregor) plus Larocque, who needed to make only one save in that win in PyeongChang.

The game will mark the sixth meeting of the season between the teams; Canada swept a four-game series in Bridgewater, N.S., in November, outscoring the Koreans 31-1.

All-time record: Canada leads 35-0
Canada goals: 214
South Korea goals: 15

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Garrett Riley on ice injury
© Matthew Murnaghan/Hockey Canada Images

Riley’s remarkable recovery

When Garrett Riley broke his leg at the end of October, many thought his season was over. But he didn’t.

Lee Boyadjian
|
March 09, 2022

The collision looked normal enough. But as the bodies cleared and the play moved on, Garrett Riley was still lying on his side in the neutral zone. Athletic therapist Michael Lenart was on the ice and over to Riley as soon as the whistle sounded. He immediately called for medical support. Within seconds, Dr. Roy Diklich was at Riley’s side and signalling for an ambulance.

Riley’s right leg – his only leg – was badly broken.

Riley is no stranger to hospitals. He was diagnosed with osteosarcoma at 15 and had his left knee replaced with a prosthetic joint to try and save the rest of his leg. Seven years later, an infection took hold and Riley became septic, leading to an above-knee amputation when he was 22. Since that operation in 2017, he has dealt with issues surrounding his residual limb, including extreme pain requiring a handful of additional surgeries.

Things got so bad the rapidly rising young para hockey star had to step away from the game after the 2018-19 season, just a year into his national team career. The Brantford, Ont., native worried that might be the end of his hockey journey, but the pain wouldn’t relent.

“I’ve had three surgeries in the last two-and-a-half years on my residual limb to try and fix the pain that I have constantly, every day,” Riley explains. “And unfortunately, none of the surgeries have really worked so it was a big setback in my career.”

In August 2021, Riley had a further resection of his residual limb just weeks before Canada’s National Para Hockey Team selection camp. He was already feeling like an underdog going in, having been away from the program for two years, and physically wasn’t at his best. But head coach Ken Babey didn’t see it that way. He saw a young player with raw talent back in the fold. Babey was excited about the prospect.

 

We were hoping Garrett would show up at selection camp ready to play this season and he did,” Babey says. “He made the roster and was really starting to come along [early in the year].”

 

Coming out of camp, Riley felt good about the season. The first hurdle on the way to 2022 Paralympic Winter Games was cleared, training was going well and the season schedule was shaping up nicely, including an early season trip to St. Louis for a two-game series against the United States.

The trip started well, but busy. Two practices a day to open the week meant long days at the arena and spending time together as a team. There was also the curiosity of the rink itself – the games were going to be outdoors. But when the team arrived in St. Louis, the ice hadn’t even been started. Each and every day the team would arrive and check on the progress.

Everyone was surprised when the ice was ready for puck drop on Oct. 29, and the excitement was palpable. Fans started arriving, including a family of four originally from north of the border, all dressed proudly in the red and white. Riley was anxious to get back on the ice wearing the Maple Leaf, but all the nerves drifted away in warmup.

Canada’s game was physical from puck drop, which is hardly a surprise given this was the first meeting between these two rivals since the 2021 IPC World Para Hockey Championship gold medal game, where the Canadians did not walk away with the top prize. Riley wasn’t on that roster, but the whole team felt it was important to make its presence known early.

It was his second shift in the first period, just barely enough time into the game to work up a sweat. Riley was skating through the neutral zone when U.S. forward Brody Roybal headed for a loose puck. There was no way to beat the American there, so Riley planned to finish the check. As did Canadian defenceman Adam Dixon. Roybal saw Dixon coming and stopped short. Riley hit the boards straight on and stopped dead, just as Dixon’s sled hit him. No one knows how Riley’s leg came out of the strap, but it took the full force of the hit, breaking both the bones in his calf.

 

I remember I had my eyes closed when they were trying to get me out of my sled and onto the stretcher and I just remember someone grabbing my hand,” Riley recalls.  “It was (equipment manager) A.J. Murley and I will always be grateful for him in that moment.”

 

Diklich rode with him in the ambulance to the hospital and spoke to the St. Louis care team. As an emergency room physician himself, Diklich has seen his fair share of bad breaks. He was there when they tried to remove Riley’s equipment but had to sedate the forward to do so. And once it was off, it was evident why. Riley had a compound fracture; the tibia had broken through the skin. A difficult injury for anyone to deal with, let someone with only one leg.

Riley was in surgery within eight hours. He had a rod installed to support the tibia and was feeling strong enough to attempt walking the next day. That proved to be too much, and plans to get Riley home on a commercial flight were dropped. Team coordinator Mitchell Furlotte waited for a few days with Riley in St. Louis until a medical flight could be arranged.

But getting home wasn’t the hardest part of this journey. Riley’s injury happened just 127 days from the start of the Beijing Games. A typical recovery from a compound fracture is about two or three months, but that is a long time for a high-performance athlete, who trains six days a week in the gym or on the ice, to be out of action, especially in a Paralympic year. So, Riley decided right away not to be down that long and that his injury would not stop him from making the team, not after everything he had been through over the last two years.

"It was definitely in my mind at first that I was done for the season,” Riley says. “But then I just thought I was done with laying around not doing anything, so if something goes wrong it goes wrong, but at that point, I just needed to push myself and get back out there.”

Two weeks after the collision, Riley was back at the gym. Arm workouts only, but focused on keeping up everything he had gained over the year. He was in constant contact with team support staff and even worked with some trainers he knew from his Team Ontario experience. Grinding it out in the gym alone for over a month was hard on Riley, but he kept his mind on the goal and built a little each day.

Then an infection took hold.

It started off small enough, but for Riley even that brought back memories from his teenage cancer and the infection that ultimately cost him his left leg. It was a tense two weeks, with everyone in Riley’s life watching and waiting to see if he could fight it off. Suddenly, returning to hockey wasn’t the priority anymore. Saving his one remaining leg was all that mattered.

 

I just kept doing things that I was in control of and able to do to help me get along and get to the point that I needed to be,” Riley says.

 

He rejoined the national team in Calgary in December for a training camp (which was in place of the cancelled Canadian Tire Para Hockey Cup), though he still wasn’t cleared to be on the ice. During practices, strength and conditioning coach Bryan Yu would bring a cardio machine rinkside so Riley could watch. For the first time in six weeks, he really felt like a part of the team.

But there was still the matter of getting him on the ice. The orthopedic doctor in Ontario took a much more conservative approach than Riley would have liked, but given the extent of the injury and the infection, there wasn’t much of a choice. Even with the protection of the sled, getting back into full training, especially contact, before the injury was sufficiently healed could have detrimental long-term effects. Plus, Riley still used his leg for balance while skating, which he noticed still caused pain when he was finally medically cleared to return to practice.

Two months to the day from the accident – Dec. 29 – Riley was back on the ice. It was a hub skate in Toronto with three other Ontario-based team members. He worked by himself for a while, getting comfortable in the sled and with his leg, before joining the rest of the players in drills. It was a great day and as word of his return spread through the team, so too did some added energy.

“Being a part of his journey to just getting in a sled, not even really thinking it meant he was going to be competitive again or positioning himself to make the team was pretty special,” says Lenart.  “But the reality is he had missed a big chunk of training time, and at this level any time you miss is time that your teammates and competitors are getting that you’re not.”

Would there be enough time?

Riley quickly had the same realization; those two months recovering had played havoc with his fitness and timing. If he wanted a shot at the Paralympic roster, he was going to need more ice time, more specific training and more coaching, but options were limited at home in Ontario. Babey suggested Riley come to Calgary early in January to work with him and the Alberta-based players, but also to have focused sessions with Yu and the support staff.

It was a big ask. The team was already planning a month-long centralization bubble leading into the Paralympics and this would add another three weeks away from home – over nine weeks away in total if Riley made the final roster. But that was the goal; for the past year Riley had thought of little else than wearing the Maple Leaf in Beijing. Three extra weeks was not going to deter him from trying everything he could to be at his best when the coaches made their calls in early February to name the roster.

Twenty players had been selected to Canada’s National Para Hockey Team in September, but only 17 would be going to the Games. Riley knew the odds were good, but that didn’t help his nerves on the day the call finally came.

“That Zoom call was really emotional,” Babey says. “The way he fought his way back, I think he earned a lot of respect from his fellow players, and I know from the coaching staff and support staff.”

In that moment, everything Riley had been through in his life was rewarded. Cancer, an amputation, chronic pain, surgery after surgery, a broken leg; it had all been leading to the point where he would have a chance to live out a childhood dream and represent his country.

Garrett Riley was a Paralympian.

Photo Credit: Angela Burger/Paralympic.ca
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Matthew Halton High School students

Cheering from Pincher Creek to Beijing

Wearing the Maple Leaf has created a special bond for Hockey Canada Skills Academy participants to Canada’s Olympians and Paralympians competing at Beijing 2022

Quinton Amundson
|
March 08, 2022

The 23 students enrolled in the Hockey Canada Skills Academy (HCSA) at Matthew Halton High School are reminded of how they belong to a coast-to-coast-to-coast hockey community every time they don their practice jerseys.

Wearing the iconic Maple Leaf invites these teenagers from the small Southern Alberta town of Pincher Creek to symbolically link arms with Canada’s Olympic and Paralympic hockey teams.

“They recognize that the crest on the jersey in small-town Alberta is the same thing the big names wear,” says Bryan Burns, the HCSA instructor and vice-principal at Matthew Halton. “It really brings forth that spirit of unity and connection. It’s huge for the kids.”

Canada’s quest for Olympic hockey supremacy in Beijing was front of mind for Burns’ students throughout the global sports festival. Burns said his students’ excitement was palpable from preliminary action all the way towards the glorious finish of Marie-Philip Poulin propelling the women to gold with a three-point performance against the United States. That excitement is sure to carry over to the Paralympics, where Team Canada will begin another quest for gold in para hockey starting on March 5.

Matthew Halton’s students hoped one of the games in the medal round would line up with their HCSA class so they could cheer Team Canada in their jerseys. Burns says one student quipped “that being able to watch would be way better than doing math.”

The 15-hour time difference between Pincher Creek and Beijing nullified that possibility. But Burns says there is another way to commemorate Canada’s overseas hockey achievements in upcoming HCSA classes.

“We have an activity made where we are going to watch some of the game footage. We will get the students to point out the examples of good teamwork in the video and how players overcame adversity. Just looking at the women’s team wearing masks while playing. Little things can get in the way of your goal, but you have to focus on it.”

In the days before the Olympics began on Feb. 4, Burns penned a letter to Hockey Canada to express his hope for his students to enjoy the quadrennial tradition.

“One thing that it great about the [Olympics and Paralympics] is that every Canadian hockey fan can highlight a favourite moment from a game they watched at some point in their life. For some the moment is a goal while others it is being with family and friends huddled around the TV with pizza and snacks. For the students at Matthew Halton, I hope that they get the chance to see some amazing hockey and enjoy what hockey is all about…being with great friends and creating memories of a lifetime!”

Burns also expressed appreciation for the aspirational power of the Winter Games. The lone girl enrolled in the HCSA program can watch her television to witness Sarah Nurse set new tournament scoring records with 18 points and 13 assists. The student can be empowered knowing Nurse’s road to becoming an Olympic champion began in minor hockey too.

Canada’s men’s and women’s national teams recognize and appreciate the power of a child—and older fans, too—making the special effort to stay up into the early morning hours to watch their hockey heroes. These athletes routinely thank fans during interviews, share social media posts and make time for autographs and pictures to show gratitude for the deeply passionate Canadian hockey community.

After coming away with silver in an overtime loss to the United States in 2018, Canada’s Paralympic Hockey Team has its eyes on finishing atop the Paralympics podium for the first time since 2006. The students at Matthew Halton may be thousands of kilometers away, but the support and pride they have for Team Canada can be felt across the world.

“We will absolutely wish the best for our athletes,” he says.

Is your HCSA celebrating the Paralympics? Show off your Canadian Paralympic spirit as our team goes for gold by tagging @HockeyCanada on social media.

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Paralympic Recap: Canada 6, South Korea 0

Dunn scored a hat trick to lead the offence and help Canada clinch a spot in the semifinals in Beijing

March 08, 2022

GAME STATISTICS | LIVE GAME BLOG

BEIJING, China – Canada’s Paralympic Hockey Team clinched a spot in the semifinals at the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games after downing Korea 6-0 in its final preliminary-round game on Tuesday.

• James Dunn (Wallacetown, Ont.) recorded a hat trick and added an assist.
• Tyler McGregor (Forest, Ont.) and Billy Bridges (Summerside, P.E.I.) chipped in with a goal and an assist each.
• Liam Hickey (St. John’s, N.L) rounded out the scoring.
• Adam Dixon (Midland, Ont.) contributed a pair of assists.
• Dominic Larocque (Quebec City, Que.) made four saves to earn the shutout.
Canada outshot Korea 42-4.

Next Game:
Canada vs. TBD (semifinal) – Friday, March 11 (7:05 a.m. ET/4:05 a.m. PT)

Quotes:
“We played a solid, consistent game and had three good periods overall. We found ourselves in some penalty trouble, but we were able to get out of those situations without giving up a goal. Our guys stayed with it and did not get rattled by those penalties. We were able to create a lot of offence after those penalty kills, but the Korean goaltender was outstanding today. We had over 40 shots and their goaltending made our lives difficult. I also love that [James] Dunn had a breakout game, and we had important contributions from a lot of key players.”
- Head coach Ken Babey (Calgary, Alta.) on today’s performance

“It is an amazing feeling [to score a hat trick at the Paralympics], but I would not be able to do it without the other guys on the team. It was important for us have a strong game today and continue to build our confidence for the next few games. We really focused on our systems and wanted to make sure we were fine-tuning our game, and now we need to focus on our semifinal.”
- Dunn on scoring a hat trick

“The best part about our team is that we are so diverse in terms of age, abilities and roles, and all 15 guys contributed the best they could. We have so much talent on this team, and that includes a lot of young players that played with so much confidence today. It was awesome to see some of our young players step up have a performance like they did against Korea, and I am sure the best is still to come.”
- Bridges on the confidence of the team’s young players

For more information on Hockey Canada and Canada’s Paralympic Hockey Team, please visit HockeyCanada.ca, or follow through social media on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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Paralympics Preview: Canada vs. South Korea

Tuesday, March 8 | 12:05 a.m. ET | Beijing, China | Preliminary Round

March 06, 2022

TV: CBC | Stream: CBC.ca

Canada’s Paralympic Hockey Team looks to rebound from its opening day defeat to the United States as it closes out the abbreviated preliminary round with a matchup against South Korea.

LAST GAME

It was not the start Canada was looking for on Saturday – a 5-0 loss to the rival Americans. Dominic Larocque started in goal, making 17 saves over the first two periods, before Adam Kingsmill made four saves in the final frame in his Paralympic debut. Canada finished on the wrong end of a 26-9 shot count.

Korea also opened the Paralympics against the United States and also took a loss, falling 9-1 on Sunday. Seung Hwan Jung tallied the lone goal for the Koreans early in the third period. Jae Woong Lee was busy, stopping 26 of 35 shots in the first 30 minutes before Hyuk Jun Choi played the third.

LAST MEETING

Canada outscored Korea 31-1 during a four-game exhibition series in Bridgewater, N.S. back in November, but the final meeting was the largest margin of victory, an 11-0 win . It was a bit of a coming-out party for some of Canada’s younger players, including a hat trick from James Dunn and four assists from Anton Jacobs-Webb. Adam Kingsmill also got some important game experience between the pipes in a four-save shutout, though he was considerably less busy than Korean counterparts Choi and Lee, who faced a combined 40 shots.

WHAT TO WATCH

Canada’s offence tapered off as the game went on against the Americans, managing only one shot in the third period, and just four over the final 30 minutes. It’ll have to be better if Canada hopes to end its 16-year gold medal drought, and a game against the Koreans, a team Canada averaged almost eight goals a game against in that November series, could be just what the doctor ordered.

A notoriously physical team, the Koreans force their opponents to grind out tough wins, which can lead to frustration and bad penalties. Whether Korea can take advantage of those power-play situations will indicate how competitive this one will be.

A LOOK BACK

This will be the 35th meeting between Canada and South Korea, but only the second at the Paralympics.

In the only other Games matchup, the Canadians came out on top 7-0 in the semifinals in 2018 in PyeongChang. Tyler McGregor scored twice and added a pair of assists in the win, which sent Canada to the final for the first time since its 2006 gold.

Most of the meetings between Canada and Korea have come at the IPC World Para Hockey Championship or Canadian Tire Para Hockey Cup. The last game at the para worlds between these teams was in 2021, an 8-0 win for Canada . Liam Hickey led the scoring in that one with two goals and three assists. McGregor added a hat trick of his own.

All-time record: Canada leads 34-0

Canada goals: 208

South Korea goals: 15

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Paralympic Recap: United States 5, Canada 0

Larocque and Kingsmill combined for 21 saves, but Canada was blanked in its prelim opener in Beijing

March 05, 2022

GAME STATISTICS | LIVE GAME BLOG

BEIJING, China Canada’s Paralympic Hockey Team dropped its opening game at the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games, falling 5-0 to the United States on Saturday.

• Dominic Larocque (Quebec City, Que.) made 17 saves through the first two periods, before Adam Kingsmill (Smithers, B.C.) stopped four of five in the third.
• Tyler McGregor (Forest, Ont.) , Billy Bridges (Summerside, P.E.I.) and Antoine Lehoux (Thetford Mines, Que.) had two shots on goal apiece.
• Adam Dixon (Midland, Ont.) led all Canadian skaters in time on ice with 26:17.
The United States outshot Canada 26-9.

Next Game:
Canada vs. Korea – Tuesday, March 8 (12:05 a.m. ET/9:05 p.m. PT)

Quotes :
“We need to focus on creating more offence and better scoring chances. We need to be a little more accurate with our shots and make sure we hit the net when we do have scoring opportunities. We need to realize that we are a bit of the underdogs in this tournament and that we are going to need to fight for pucks and find ways to score. We will work on that in practice over the next few days and hope to have a better outcome against Korea.”
- Head coach Ken Babey (Calgary, Alta.) on creating more scoring opportunities

“Throughout the lineup, the excitement was really high, especially after last night’s opening ceremonies. PyeongChang feels like a long time ago and it is great to be back at the Paralympics. Our opportunities to compete at major tournaments have been limited recently, so all that might have got the best of us today. We were all really excited for this moment, and we just need to settle in and regroup for our next game against Korea.”
- McGregor on the excitement leading in to today’s game

“It was a tough game for us, but I think it is important that we focus on the positives. I thought we played fast and physical, and I know we can continue to build on that. We hope to see [the United States] again in the gold medal game, and we all need to realize that opportunity to play for gold has not been taken away after one game.”
- Liam Hickey (St. Johns, N.L.) on focusing on the positives

For more information on Hockey Canada and Canada’s Paralympic Hockey Team, please visit HockeyCanada.ca, or follow through social media on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

[email protected] 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

[email protected]

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

[email protected]

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