WATSON EARNS SHUTOUT, SENDS CANADA TO GOLD MEDAL GAME
JASON LA ROSE
TURIN, Italy – Corbin Watson (Kingsville, Ont.) turned away all 14 shots he faced for his second shutout in as many starts, and Canada’s National Sledge Team moved into the gold medal game at the 2017 International Para Hockey Tournament with a 4-0 semifinal win over Italy on Friday.
The Canadians will defend their 2015 gold medal against the winner of the Korea-Norway semifinal in the final on Saturday (4 a.m. ET/1 a.m. PT).
Watson, who has split the netminding duties with Dominic Larocque (Quebec City, Que.) through four games, blanked the tournament hosts for the second time in four days; he needed to make just five stops in a 3-0 win on Tuesday.
Canada spread around the offence, with four players scoring goals. Tyler McGregor (Forest, Ont.) was the offensive sparkplug, scoring once and adding two assists in the win; the three points pulled him even with Canadian captain Greg Westlake (Oakville, Ont.) – who had a goal and a helper – for the tournament scoring lead at nine points.
It took less than a minute for the Canadians to open the scoring. Westlake wired a shot off the right wing that was turned away by Italian goaltender Gabriele Araudo, but Dominic Cozzolino (Mississauga, Ont.) came straight up the middle to redirect in the 1-0 goal just 45 seconds in.
Westlake did the scoring himself late in the opening frame, cutting into the slot before slipping a left-handed shot under Araudo to send Canada to the first intermission up by a pair.
Watson was busy in the opening period, making seven saves, most coming on an Italian five-on-three. The Canadians did not allow more than eight shots total in any of their three preliminary-round games.
Adam Dixon (Midland, Ont.) needed just 81 seconds of the second period to push the advantage to 3-0, taking a pass in the slot and snapping a quick shot past the blocker of Araudo, and McGregor converted on a Canadian power play at 5:12 to finish the scoring.
Araudo, who made 18 saves, turned in the second strong performance by an Italian goaltender against the Canadians; Santino Stillitano was spectacular in a 25-save effort in the loss on Tuesday.
Canada controlled the puck in a scoreless third period, outshooting Italy 7-1. Overall, the Canadians held a 22-14 edge in shots.