Team USA jumped out to a three-goal lead and needed all of it to hold off Canada in the championship final of the World Sled Hockey Challenge on Saturday in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.
Josh Misiewicz, Brody Roybal and Josh Pauls scored and three-time Paralympic goalie Steve Cash made them count as Team USA defeated Canada 3-2 to win its fourth straight World Sled Hockey Challenge.
The Americans, the reigning two-time Paralympic champions, jumped out to a 3-0 lead midway through the second period before Canada finally scored, and then held off a furious third-period comeback that saw the Canadians pull within one goal midway through the final period.
Team USA is 10-2-1-2 (W-OTW-OTL-L) in its last 15 games against Canada, and won its sixth overall World Sled Hockey Challenge to claim the most titles in tournament history. It had been tied with Canada, which won the 2017 Para Sled Hockey World Championship against the Americans in Gangneung, South Korea.
Misiewicz, seeking his first berth on the U.S. Paralympic sled hockey team, put Team USA on top by tucking the puck into the bottom corner for the game’s first goal with 5:52 left in the opening period.
Roybal, the youngest member of the gold medal-winning team at the Paralympic Winter Games Sochi 2014 at just 15 years old, scored on a short-handed breakaway 3:55 into the second period. Roybal carried the puck all the way to the net with his right hand before slipping it to his left hand for a goal to the nearside of Canadian goalie Dominic Larocque.
Pauls, the U.S. captain and a two-time Paralympic gold medalist, scored his first goal of the tournament 9:51 into the middle period with a right-handed shot.
Canada finally solved Cash, also a two-time Paralympic gold medalist, with 8:02 left in the second period on a rising shot from the slot by Tyler McGregor during a 5-on-3 power play. Cash led the tournament with a .922 save percentage heading into the championship game.
Canada cut the deficit to one with 9:59 left in the third period on a Liam Hickey goal. Hickey was all alone in front after play became congested along the right circle half wall.
Team USA had defeated Canada 5-2 on Wednesday during the round-robin portion of the tournament despite a 22-14 disadvantage in shots.
Team USA went 3-0 in the preliminary round and emerged as the only unbeaten team heading into the medal rounds. The World Sled Hockey Challenge is part of USA Hockey’s selection process for the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.
USA Hockey will name the final roster for PyeongChang on or around Jan. 1.