Canada's Para hockey team improved to 2-0 at the International Para Hockey Cup with a commanding 5-2 win over the International Para Hockey Team (IPH) on Sunday in Ostrava, Czech Republic.
Dominic Cozzolino and Liam Hickey each scored twice, while captain Tyler McGregor added a short-handed goal in the third period to help seal the victory at RT Torax Arena.
The Canadians jumped ahead with a three-goal second period and maintained momentum while outshooting their opponents 23-7. The IPH Team consists of top Para hockey players from Germany, Norway and Slovakia.
"I thought we were a bit up and down today, but at the key moments we performed well, stuck to the structure, and put ourselves in a position to be rewarded," Canadian head coach Russ Herrington said.
"Our motto has been that the simple play is often the best play. Tonight, those little plays opened the opportunity for a little more creativity in the offensive zone, especially for the Cozzolino line."
Cozzolino, who finished the game with four points, scored the game's opening goal on the power-play in the first period after German forward Bernhard Hering was called for interference. Zach Lavin kept the puck in at the blue line and passed it across the ice to James Dunn, who then fed the puck between two defenders to Cozzolino in front of the net for the goal.
Hering redeemed himself by scoring the game-tying goal just under two minutes later with a shot over the glove of Canadian goaltender Tyson Rietveld.
But Canada seized momentum early in the second period, as Hickey scored to put his team back on top for good. The 24-year-old from St. John's, Nfld., put the puck past Slovakian goalie Eduard Lepacek after receiving a perfect pass in front of the net from Cozzolino. Dunn also added another assist on the play.
Hickey added an insurance goal on the power-play later in the period — his fourth goal through two games at the tournament. Cozzolino and Corbyn Smith picked up assists.
Norwegian defenceman Knut Andre Nordstoga cut into Canada's lead in the second period with a power-play goal to make it 3-2. But that was as close as the IPH Team would get, as the Canadians held them to just two shots on goal in the third period.
Cozzolino scored a power-play goal late in the second period that was assisted by Hickey and fellow Paralympian McGregor. McGregor finished off the scoring by beating Lepacek down low for a short-handed goal in the third period, with Rod Crane and Anton Jacobs-Webb adding assists.
The Canadians will next face the United States on Tuesday — a team they lost to in the gold-medal final at the Beijing Paralympics in March. The Americans are also undefeated and riding momentum in Ostrava after a 9-1 win over the IPH Team on Saturday and a 10-0 win over the Czech Republic on Sunday.
"This was another good win for us, and we will enjoy it, but we know we have a tough opponent coming up," Hickey said. "We need to reset and refocus and get back to what we do best in order to be ready for USA."
Canada's game against the U.S. can be streamed here on Tuesday at 10 a.m. ET.
The tournament runs until Sept. 30.
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