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Smithers goalie leads Canada to first world para hockey title in 7 years

Home ice win over U.S. netted Canada its 4th gold medal in the history of the tournament
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Team USA forward Travis Dodson (9) has his shot deflected by Team Canada goalie Adam Kingsmill (54) during second period action in the World Para Ice Hockey Championship final in Calgary, Sunday, May 12, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Canada dented the United States’ recent dominance in para hockey with a 2-1 win for the gold medal in Sunday’s world championship final.

The Canadians had lost three straight world championship finals to the Americans, as well as the 2018 and 2022 Paralympic Games finals to the U.S.

Canada claimed its first world para title since 2017, and first on home ice.

“It’s been for myself seven years, and for many of us seven years since we’ve won a world championship and to be quite honest, I’ve, especially the past couple years, been bearing the weight of that,” Canadian captain Tyler McGregor said. “It is a relief.

“It hits different being able to sing your national anthem, especially with the road that we’ve been on the past number of years.”

Goaltender Adam Kingsmill of Smithers, B.C., was a difference-maker stopping 24 of 25 shots compared to seven of nine by his U.S. counterpart Jen Lee.

Dominic Cozzolino of Mississauga, Ont., scored his seventh goal of the tournament 35 seconds after the opening faceoff at Calgary’s WinSport Arena. Anton Jacobs-Webb of Gatineau, Que., made it 2-0 for the hosts in the second period.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve got out to an early lead. That’s a different experience from the way we’ve played them in the past,” McGregor said. “We played a responsible game defensively and had an outstanding goaltending performance from Kinger.”

Tournament MVP Declan Framer scored in the third period for the U.S., which clashed with Canada for gold in a seventh straight world championship final. The U.S. suffered its first loss since October 2021.

“We’d like to survive the first shift without giving one up there, but I thought we settled in,” U.S. coach David Hoff said. “At the end of the period, we’d outshot them 8-1.

“They were very efficient getting pucks out of the zone. They were very efficient about getting pucks in deep into the zone, making us work 200 feet if we’re going to do something. They did what they needed to do to win a hockey game.”

The U.S. defeated Czechia 3-1 and Canada doubled China 2-1 in the semifinals. The Czechs edged China 3-2 for the bronze medal earlier Sunday.

Canada’s power play was 0 for 2, but held the U.S. to 0 for 3 with a man advantage. Framer halved the deficit with 3:41 remaining for his 11th of the tournament. The Americans mounted a furious push for an equalizer, but Kingsmill was up to the task.

“We were able to handle a team that’s a high-octane offence and keep them to bad ice for most of the game,” Canadian head coach Russ Herrington said. “That allowed us to put Kingsmill in a position where he could shine.”

Canada’s goalie was swarmed by his teammates at the buzzer. He stopped Evan Nichols on a breakaway in the second period and denied Jack Wallace from close range during a U.S. power play in the first.

“This might be my first win against the United States,” Kingsmill said. “It’s been a long process for all of us and especially a lot of the guys who have been around for a long time.”

Jacobs-Webb gave the hosts a 2-0 lead in the second period when he cruised into the slot to convert a behind-the-net feed from McGregor.

Canada led by a goal after just 35 seconds when Cozzolino at the side of the U.S. net. collected a Rob Armstrong shot from long range and tucked the puck into the opening to Lee’s left.

“We put so much into this,” Cozzolino said. “Wearing this jersey and from everything we’ve been through over the past seven years, this is what it’s all for. Man, this is the best ever.”

The world para hockey championship was held in Canada for the first time in 2023 in Moose Jaw, Sask., where the U.S. defeated Canada 6-1 for the title.

The first world para hockey championship was held in 2008. Canada won its fourth gold medal Sunday.

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