Two games into the World Para Hockey Championship and the United States have looked every bit like the defending Paralympic and World champions they are.
One day after taking a 7-1 win over Czechia to open the tournament at the Moose Jaw Events Centre, the U.S. scored five goals in the first period and went on to a 9-0 victory over Korea to improve to 2-0 in Group A.
Korea fell to 0-3 and will play in the quarter-finals.
“I thought we really wanted to start well and I liked the start we had, and I really liked the fact that all three lines played well,” said United States coach David Hoff. “We had a lot of offensive time from all three groups and just the puck possession of all three lines, too. And I thought we played a complete game, we didn’t want to rub it in at the end and the guys were respectful that way.”
The U.S. scored four goals in the second period to build their 9-0 lead but didn’t push all that hard in the third and were held without a goal in the final frame.
A big part of that was a solid defensive showing by Korea, who have made that a focal point of their game as they look to continue to rebuild their program after winning bronze on home soil during the 2018 PyeongChang Paralympics.
“After Pyeongchang 2018, a lot of players retired and that made the game a lot harder to play, so we’ve focussed on defence and building that part of our game,” said Korea captain Jang Dong Shin. “Against Canada (a 15-1 loss) it didn’t really work well, but we played a lot better today and it was a closer game.”
Knowing that the result was probably going to end up in their favour led to the U.S. mainly focussing on their own game and continuing to improve, especially with the tougher games ahead.
“I think you’re just trying to focus on good habits and keep getting better at the little things,” said U.S. standout Declan Farmer, who had a hat trick against Korea. “Obviously when the score gets to where it is, it’s harder to keep that same intensity, but we did our best to do that, push the pace and build good habits into tomorrow.”
Evan Nichols had a pair of goals for the United States, while Travis Dodson and Chris Douglas had a goal and two assists each. David Eustace and Josh Pauls picked up a goal and had two points apiece. Noah Grove added three assists.
Griffin Lamarre had six saves to earn the win in goal for the U.S., while Bong Daehan stopped 14 shots in 21:58 of work for Korea before giving way to Choi Hyuk Jun, who saved nine shots the rest of the way.
The U.S. now turns their attention to the biggest game of the round robin against Canada, with that contest going at 7 p.m. on Wednesday night.
Needless to say, Farmer and his teammates are looking forward to the challenge.
“It’s always fun to play the host nation,” he said. “We were in the Czechia a few years ago and they sold out the place, 10,000 people, so hopefully they can sell out here and we’ll have a great game for all the fans.”