The World Para Hockey Championship is quickly beginning to attract more and more attention in Moose Jaw as folks catch on to the game, and that has Team Canada hoping for a huge amount of support when they face the United States in an all-important first-place-deciding contest on Wednesday night.
Plenty of tickets are still available for the game as of late Tuesday, but that could very well change now that word is getting out that the Moose Jaw Events Centre has something special going on this week.
“First and foremost, I encourage everyone to come and see our sport live,” said Team Canada captain Tyler McGregor shortly after their 2-1 win over Czechia. “That’s when you really see the speed and physicality and intensity and you grow an appreciation for it. And I think you’re going to see the sport at it’s best (Wednesday) night, the top two countries in the world going head to head in Canada. That’s a can’t-miss opportunity.”
The Para Hockey Worlds have been a special event for Team Canada right from the get-go. While they’ve played only two games thus far, having the chance to actually be on home soil playing in a world championship for the first time has meant everything to the players.
“I think most importantly it’s about our family and friends,” McGregor said. “My parents are standing over there, this opportunity is rare for us. For myself and everyone else, I haven’t played in front of my parents since 2018, so those people are the reason we’re all here and that alone is special.”
As for fans just there for the enjoyment of the game and to support their national team, make no mistake, they’re difference makers.
“We’d like to see more people in seats and even the fans that are here, they’re probably part of the reason we came away with the win tonight,” McGregor said. “The more people here, the more energy that will fill the building and that can help us so much… it’s almost like an extra player. It’s an honour to be able to play on home ice in a major tournament for the first time ever. That’s hard to believe that that’s the case, but hopefully it’s the first of many in the future.”
United States head coach David Hoff said his team is looking forward to the chance to face Canada in front of a raucous crowd.
“You know what, that’s so fun and so great for the sport,” he said. “The fact we have the opportunity to play in front of a lot of people in a really fun environment, that’s the great thing about this for both teams,”
Canada coach Russ Herrington was of much the same opinion, adding that fans can expect to see a high-intensity game between the two best teams in the world.
“I think it’ll be a little bit different tomorrow because we’ve now rode the crest of that wave a little bit,” he said. “And if there are twice as many people here and they’re chanting for Canada the whole time it’s going to be easy to find the energy to put on a good performance tomorrow.”
Game time is 7 p.m. and tickets are available on www.sasktix.ca and at the Moose Jaw Events Centre box office.a