Canada falls to U.S. in gold-medal game at Para hockey worlds in Moose Jaw, Sask.

Sunday's gold-medal matchup between Canada and the United States marked the sixth straight final between the rivals at the world Para hockey championship, with the Americans winning their third straight world title. (@HockeyCanada/Twitter - image credit)
Sunday's gold-medal matchup between Canada and the United States marked the sixth straight final between the rivals at the world Para hockey championship, with the Americans winning their third straight world title. (@HockeyCanada/Twitter - image credit)

Canada's national Para hockey team suffered a 6-1 loss to the United States in the gold-medal game at the world Para hockey championship on Sunday in Moose Jaw, Sask.

The Americans seized momentum early and outplayed the Canadians at both ends of the ice to win the first worlds hosted in Canada. It's an all too familiar feeling for the Canadian team, which has not beaten the reigning Paralympic champions in any competition since 2021.

The matchup marked the sixth straight final between the rivals at the world championship, with the U.S. winning its third straight world title and sixth overall. Canada has not won gold at the tournament since 2017.

"I've been doing this a long time and the expectation and hope is to leave every tournament with a gold medal. You have to be reasonable as well and understand that the path for doing that is different for everybody," Canada captain Tyler McGregor said in a release. "To be quite honest, for a core group of us, that has been really, really hard.

"We've had so many heartbreaks, but we've had new people that inject our room with so much passion and energy."

The Americans opened the scoring just under three minutes into the game. Josh Misiewicz deflected a shot from defenceman Josh Pauls past Canadian goalie Dominic Larocque from close range. The goal was reviewed for goaltender interference with Misiewicz making contact, but the call was upheld.

Canada had a chance to establish momentum late in the first period after U.S. forward Ben Musselman was called for interference, but American star Declan Farmer scored a short-handed goal for the 2-0 lead.

Farmer, a three-time Paralympic gold medallist, picked the puck up off the boards and raced down the ice on a breakaway before deking out Larocque. The 25-year-old was named tournament MVP and best forward of the tournament.

The Canadians had plenty of power-play opportunities throughout the game but finished 0-for-6. The Americans went 0-for-3.

"We had our chances, we didn't capitalize and that's one of the differences right now. When they get the chance they make the most of it, that's part of our process and we'll get there," McGregor said.

WATCH | Canada blanks Czech Republic in semifinals:

The U.S. continued to shine in the second period, with David Eustace extending the lead just 1:23 into the frame. The defenceman scored off a rebound after Larocque made the initial save on Jack Wallace's shot.

Wallace scored his team's fourth goal of the game later in the period on a short-handed breakaway, flipping the puck over Larocque's blocker.

McGregor brought the home crowd to its feet with a goal in the third period, beating goalie Jen Lee from in close for his fourth goal and tenth point of the tournament. But the excitement was short-lived, as Farmer gave the U.S. a 5-1 lead with another highlight-reel goal.

"You have to show up to the gold-medal game under a lot of pressure, play your best, make plays under pressure and be ready for whatever comes your way. I think we're capable of doing that and we showed that we're at least on the path to doing so," said McGregor, who was named player of the game for Canada.

Canada pulled Larocque for the extra attacker in the final minutes, but it led to an empty-net goal from forward Kevin McKee to close out the win.

Larocque made 17 saves on 23 shots, while Lee faced nine shots.

"We say be hard to play against and that means possess the puck as much as we can," U.S. head coach David Hoff said. "A couple of times Canada got loose on us, but we always had two, three sleds coming back to make it hard for them to get to the net."

Canada advanced to the final with a 5-0 win over the Czech Republic on Saturday, their third victory of the tournament. They finished the preliminary round with a 2-1 record, defeating Korea 15-1 and the Czechs 2-1 before falling 3-0 to the U.S.

The Canadian squad had six players competing at their first worlds, including 20-year-old trailblazer Raphaëlle Tousignant — the first woman to play for Canada's national Para hockey team at an international event.

WATCH | Raphaëlle Tousignant makes history by breaking gender barrier:

"I think our players should be really proud of what they invested this year," Canada's head coach Russ Herrington said. "We talked a lot about not defining yourself by what you do or what you achieve; you define yourself by who you are and how you invest in the process to get there. We're so proud as athletes and staff of the steps we've taken.

"It's an arduous journey and we feel like we've excelled the process a little bit, but there's a road still to travel to get to the top of podium."

The U.S. went undefeated en route to the gold medal, including a dominant 10-2 win over China in the semifinal on Saturday.

The Czech Republic edged China 3-2 in the bronze-medal game earlier on Sunday for their first podium finish at worlds.

Since the tournament began in 1996, Canada has captured four gold medals (2000, 2008, 2013, 2017), along with four silver (2015, 2019, 2021, 2023) and three bronze (1996, 2009, 2012).