Paralympics

McGregor, Cozzolino lead Canada over China to open Para Hockey Cup in N.B.

Canada opened the 2023 Para Hockey Cup in Quispamsis, N.B., with a 4-1 victory over China on Sunday.

Quispamsis game marks 1st-ever matchup between the 2 teams in international play

A Para men's ice hockey player shoots the puck.
Canada captain Tyler McGregor recorded four points during a 4-1 win over China at the 2023 Para Hockey Cup in Quispamsis, N.B., on Sunday. (Ryan Pierse/Getty Images/File)

Canada opened the 2023 Para Hockey Cup in Quispamsis, N.B., with a 4-1 victory over China on Sunday.

The matchup marked the first time in history that Canada's national Para hockey team met China in international play, with captain Tyler McGregor and Mississauga, Ont., native Dominic Cozzolino factoring in on every Canadian goal.

China was a standout team at the 2023 World Para Ice Hockey Championship in Moose Jaw, Sask., in May and June, going undefeated in its preliminary-round group before eventually losing to the Czech Republic in the bronze-medal game.

The United States took down Canada in the gold-medal game of that tournament, with those same top four teams back in action at the QPlex in Quispamsis for the four-team Para Hockey Cup.

"[China] is a team that we have never played before," McGregor said in a release. "We had the chance to watch them at the [worlds] in Moose Jaw and saw who their top players are, but structurally we did not know a whole lot about them.

"Reflecting on the game, what I am most proud of from our group is that we learned on the fly, adjusted on the go, and found a way to win. I was fighting for the puck a bit tonight, so on nights like those, you try to get the puck to those around you. I am fortunate that I play with some great players who were able to capitalize on those opportunities."

The Forest, Ont., native played the role of distributor early, setting up Liam Hickey on the power play and Cozzolino at even-strength to give Canada a 2-0 lead in the first period.

Jonathan Daigle of Boucherville, Que., earned his first assist for Canada on Cozzolino's first-period goal.

"It was incredible," Daigle said. "It is a dream come true to play for Team Canada and to have my first assist on my first shift of the game was amazing; I hope it is the first of many. This is so much more fun than I had thought. All of my teammates are really nice, looking out for me on the ice and helping me grow as a player."

Zhidong Wang cut the lead to one on a short-handed marker in the second, but that was as close as China would get.

McGregor found Cozzolino again at the midway point of the second period to make it 3-1, and Cozzolino returned the favour to McGregor late in the third to cap the scoring.

Adam Kingsmill of Smithers, B.C., made six saves in the win, with Canada holding a 21-7 edge in shots.

"It is always exciting to get going in a tournament like this, get your first game under your belt..." said Canadian guest coach Tara Chisholm, who became the first woman to work behind the bench for the national Para team. "We knew that [China] would come out with a lot of speed... We had to be aware in our defensive end and make sure that we stagger so we do not get caught up ice, which did happen a couple of times today and are good lessons to learn from.

"We have a really strong skill set on our team, a lot of depth. We need to look at the defensive side of things and allow that to bring the offence, as we know [the Czech Republic] and the U.S. are both going to come at us hard."

Next up for Canada will be a 6 p.m. ET matchup on Monday with the Czech Republic, which lost 3-0 to the U.S. on Sunday.

Canada will play the Americans at the same time on Wednesday to wrap up round-robin play, with the semifinals set for Friday and the subsequent bronze and gold-medal games on Saturday.

Led by head coach Russ Herrington, Canada is searching for its first gold medal at the Para Hockey Cup since 2013. The U.S. has won seven straight titles, with the last six coming against Canada.

Canada most recently lost to the U.S. in the International Para Hockey Cup final last month in Ostrava, Czech Republic.

Canada roster

Forwards:

  • #19 Dominic Cozzolino — Mississauga, Ont.
  • #15 Jonathan Daigle — Boucherville, Que.
  • #11 Adam Dixon — Midland, Ont.
  • #4 James Dunn — Wallacetown, Ont.
  • #23 Liam Hickey — St. John's
  • #26 Anton Jacobs-Webb  — Gatineau, Que.
  • #29 Micah Kovacevich — Edmonton
  • #20 Jacob Leblanc — Moncton, N.B.
  • #8 Tyler McGregor — Forest, Ont.
  • #25 Saoud Messaoudi — Saint-Hubert, Que.
  • #9 Corbyn Smith — Monkton, Ont.
  • #24 Sam Swafford — Ottawa

Defencemen:

  • #61 Rob Armstrong — Erin, Ont.
  • #17 Shawn Burnett — McMasterville, Que.
  • #2 Rod Crane — Clarksburg, Ont.
  • #92 Auren Halbert — Calgary
  • #5 Tyrone Henry — Ottawa
  • #7 Zach Lavin — Essex, Ont.

Goaltenders:

  • #33 Mitchell Garrett — Surrey, B.C.
  • #54 Adam Kingsmill — Smithers, B.C.

With files from Hockey Canada

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

Get up to speed on what's happening in sports. Delivered weekdays.

...

The next issue of The Buzzer will soon be in your inbox.

Discover all CBC newsletters in the Subscription Centre.opens new window

now