Friday, June 14, 2024

3 local players capture Canada’s first para hockey world gold in 7 years, first on home ice

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Anton Jacobs-Webb scored Canada’s second goal in a 2-1 win over USA on May 12. Photo: IPC

By Emma Zhao

Tyrone Henry and Rob Armstrong celebrated their 100th appearances for Team Canada and savoured their first victory over the United States in a big number of them as they helped Team Canada to a gold medal at the May 4-12 para ice hockey world championships in Calgary.

Fellow Sledge Hockey of Eastern Ontario product Anton Jacobs-Webb scored the game-winning goal in the 2-1 championship game as Canada ended USA’s streak of three consecutive world titles and a pair of Paralympic crowns.

“This time we really shrugged off the pressure, surrendered to what was going to happen, and just played our game,” indicated Henry, noting that the Americans were typically faster skaters, so much of Team Canada’s new strategy was to prevent those players from getting the puck in the first place.

Canada finished first in their group with a perfect 3-0 record in the preliminary round, beating Japan 19-0, Italy 10-0 and Czechia 5-1, before booking its spot in the gold medal game with a 2-1 semifinal victory over China.

Canada earned its fourth world title in 13 editions, but first on home ice. Henry said the victory was made sweeter in the presence of his family members and friends.

“It’s tough to put into words,” added the 30-year-old. “Just winning this year especially with all of our families there and being able to share that moment with them, it meant the world.”

Tyrone Henry. Photo: IPC

Para ice hockey became an important source of inspiration and purpose for Henry following a life-altering car accident in 2010. The community involved in the sport was the best part, he highlighted.

“The people that are involved in it, some of the teammates I have, are some of the best people I’ve ever met,” underlined the Team Canada assistant captain.

Henry, owner of two Paralympic silver medals, was victorious at his debut world championships in 2017, but hadn’t tasted gold again until this year.

He joined Team Canada at the same time as Armstrong and Dominic Cozzolino, who worked together to score the first goal of the championship game just 35 seconds in.

“Having this group of guys that have been working together for so long and being able to celebrate these milestones with them is pretty special,” noted Henry, who’s on the ice with Armstrong for just about every one of their practices in Ottawa or Montreal. “To grow together through this whole process, not only as hockey players but as people, it’s a pretty special journey.”

Rob Armstrong. Photo: IPC

Now that the Canadians overcame their largest rivals, the next big step will be the next Paralympic Games in less than two years in Italy.

“There’s a few thing that we want to work on and get better at still,” Henry signalled. “It’s just part of the process, just trying to get better everyday.”

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