Italy Canada and Korea Republic win in Opening day of Para Ice Hockey World Championship

Italy and Sweden compete for the puck (Photo: IPC/Ivo Gonzalez)

Italy, Canada, and Korea Republic all picked up wins in the first day of play at the Para Ice Hockey World Championships in Gangenung, Korea Republic on Wednesday. The event is significant as it doubles as a test event for the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Games, allowing the best teams in the world to get a look at the ice and venue for that event.

Italy won the opening match of the tournament as they managed a 2-1 victory over Sweden, a win that could well determine which of these two sides advance to the knock out rounds. The Italians started early, and from there they were able to hold on, despite giving up a goal that saw Sweden push hard for an equalizer.

Just over five minutes in to the game with a hook up between a young and veteran player giving Italy early confidence. Sandro Kalegaris made history as the first para athlete to score in the venue as he put away the puck after a pass from Florian Planker.

About halfway through the second half youngster Christoph Deapoli was able to get through on a break and make it two. Less than one minute later Sweden managed to pull a goal back as Marcus Holm was able to set up Per Kasperi for the goal to keep Sweden in it.

The final period saw Italy continue their attack on the Swedish goal, as Sweden just looked out of the game, allowing Italy the valuable 2-1 win.

The second match was much more one sided as Canada tore Norway apart winning 9-0 in a rematch of the 2014 Paralympic Games bronze medal match. Dominant from the start Canada never looked back as they controlled the game from puck drop.

Greg Westlake showed why he is captaining the side as he managed to score two goals, along with his assistant Tyler McGregor. McGregor started things just 30 seconds in to the game before goals from Kevin Sorley, Ben Delaney, Adam Dixon, Liam Hickey and Westlake flew in through the first period to make it 6-0 at the first intermission.

In the second period there was only one goal coming after a loose puck was pounced upon by veteran Billy Bridges to make it seven. The third period saw two goals as Westlake and McGregor both scored again with Hickey providing the assist on each goal for the final score of 9-0.

The final game of the day was a stunning match up as Korea Republic managed to just get through and win the match 2-1.

Showing how tight the match was going to be, neither side was able to get a goal in the first period, the first not coming until early in the second. 3:20 in to the second period Seung-Hwan Jung sent the puck to Jongkyung Lee who was able to slide the puck over the goalie and under the bar, sending the home fans in to raptures.

Germany set up a thrilling third period as they were able to equalize the game taking full advantage of a power play. Robert Pabst was able to get on the end of a rush and send it past the goalie to set up a thrilling finish.

With just 3:17 remaining in the game Korea Republic was able to steal the win thanks to some more great work from Jung. He was able to get on to the puck and send it past the goalie for a memorable end to the first day of competition at the world championship.

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