PANFILOV SCORES WINNER IN FINAL MINUTE, RUSSIA TOPS CANADA IN WSHC SEMIS
JASON LA ROSE
LEDUC, Alta. – Sergey Panfilov’s second goal of the game, with 52.9 seconds remaining, gave Russia a 2-1 semifinal win over Canada’s National Sledge Team on Thursday and a spot in Saturday’s gold medal game at the 2015 World Sledge Hockey Challenge.
The Russians will face the United States for gold on Saturday (5 p.m. MT, TSN).
Panfilov gathered a loose puck between the hashmarks, spun and wired a left-handed shot over the shoulder of Canadian netminder Corbin Watson (Kingsville, Ont.) to give Russia its first-ever win over Canada.
Dmitriy Lisov added two assists for the Russians, who are into the gold medal game for the second consecutive major international tournament; they lost to the U.S. in the Paralympic final last March.
Kevin Rempel (Vineland, Ont.) had the lone goal for Canada, which will miss out on the gold medal game for the first time in the eight-year history of the World Sledge Hockey Challenge.
The Canadians, who lost to the U.S. in Wednesday’s preliminary round finale, dropped back-to-back games for just the second time since the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver, and lost to a team other than the Americans for the first time since a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Norway on March 14, 2011, a span of 39 games.
Russia got off to a quick start; Panfilov banged in a rebound after Watson couldn’t control an Ilia Volkov shot just 72 seconds after the opening face-off.
But Rempel was quick to respond for Canada, driving to the net on the power play and burying the second chance off a Greg Westlake (Oakville, Ont.) scoring opportunity at 5:09.
The Canadians were lucky to get to the intermission tied – Russia held a 13-4 advantage in shots on goal in the first period – but started to carry the play in a scoreless second, although they couldn’t find a way past Russian netminder Vladimir Kamentsev.
Adam Dixon (Midland, Ont.) had the best scoring chance for Canada in the third period, rocketing a shot from just inside centre ice that beat Kamentsev but not the crossbar with just minutes to go.
The Canadians will take on Korea in Saturday afternoon’s bronze medal game (noon MT).